|Organic Agriculture’s Role in Countering Climate Change, Organic Agriculture mitigates climate change: It reduces greenhouse gases, especially nitrous oxide, as no chemical nitrogen fertilizers are used and nutrient losses are minimized. It stores carbon in soil and plant biomass by building organic matter, encouraging agro-forestry and forbidding the clearance of primary ecosystems. It minimizes energy consumption by 30-70% per unit of land by eliminating the energy required to manufacture synthetic fertilizers, and by using internal farm inputs, thus reducing fuel used for transportation. Organic Agriculture helps farmers adapt to climate change: It prevents nutrient and water loss through high organic matter content and soil covers, thus making soils more resilient to floods, droughts and land degradation processes. It preserves seed and crop diversity which increases crop resistance to pests and disease.Maintenance of diversity also helps farmers evolve new cropping systems to adapt to climatic changes. It minimizes risk as a result of stable agro-ecosystems and yields, and lower production costs. ISIS Press Release: Mitigating Climate Change through Organic Agriculture and Localized Food Systems FiBl Study focusing on organic agriculture and climate change mitigation The Rodale Institute: Global Warming Conventional agriculture contributes to climate change: It uses synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that require significant amounts of energy to manufacture It applies excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer that is released as nitrous oxide It operates intensive livestock holdings that overproduce manure and methane It relies on external, soy-based animal feed that requires large amounts of fuel to travel thousands of kilometers to reach the farm It mines the earth of the nutrients needed to sustain production thereby leading to the clearing of rainforest and “slash and burn” techniques that reduce carbon storage and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide from burning vegetation Supporting Organic Agriculture means supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation Governments should acknowledge Organic Agriculture as an effective strategy to reduce greenhouse gases and sequester carbon.They should help farmers adapt to climate change by promoting Organic Agriculture through research and extension services. IFOAM position: Organic Agriculture and Climate Change Donor and development agencies, such as the FAO, UNEP, and IFAD, should develop Organic Agriculture programs based on outreach, awareness and best practices, especially in regions sensitive to climate change. Researchers should study and quantify the role of Organic Agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change in order to improve farming techniques and disseminate findings. Farmers should grow organically to increase their farm’s resilience to the effects of climate change. Consumers should choose locally-grown, organic products to reduce their climate change impact. IFOAM is constantly updating the information on this website. Comments or suggestions contact the Platform Coordinator Back to the Growing Organic main page|
Organic Agriculture has a significant role to play in addressing two of the world’s biggest and most urgent issues: climate change and food security. Climate change mitigation and adaptation and food security are inseparable and inherent beneficial characteristics of Organic Agriculture.
Organic Agriculture has well established practices that simultaneously mitigate climate change, build resilient farming systems, reduce poverty and improve food security. Organic Agriculture emits much lower levels of greenhouse gases (GHG), and quickly, affordably and effectively sequesters carbon in the soil. In addition, Organic Agriculture makes farms and people more resilient to climate change, mainly due to its water efficiency, resilience to extreme weather events and lower risk of complete crop failure.
In time for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, IFOAM and IFOAM EU Group have published three new publications to raise awareness of the important role of organic agriculture in mitigating and adapting to climate change and securing food supply:
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