Reprinted from www.organicconsumers.org by OrganicConsumers.org
France's 4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate puts regenerative food and farming front and center in the climate solutions conversation. This is why the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), our Mexico affiliate, Via Organica, IFOAM Organics International and more than 50 of our other activist allies across the globe have signed on in support of the Initiative.
Unfortunately, the U.S. government is not yet on board with the plan--even though our country's toxic, fossil-fuel-based, heavily subsidized (with taxpayer money), degenerative industrial agriculture system is a primary driver of global warming.
A global problem, a global solution
Leaders from 190 countries convened in Paris on November 30 for the 14-day COP21 Paris Climate Conference. This year, for the first time in over 20 years of United Nations (UN) climate negotiations, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) set out to achieve something concrete: "a legally binding and universal agreement to make sure the Earth doesn't get warmer than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels."
To meet that goal, the French Government launched the 4/1000 Initiative which, distilled to simplest terms, says this: If, on a global scale, we increase the soil carbon content of the soil by .04 percent each year for the next 25 years, we can draw down a critical mass of excess carbon from the atmosphere and begin to reverse global warming.
Is the French Initiative realistic? Yes, even by conservative estimates.
Industrial, degenerative farming practices, which include tilling, deforestation, wetlands destruction and the use of massive amounts of synthetic and toxic fertilizers and pesticides, have stripped 136 billion tons of carbon out of the soil and sent it up into the atmosphere. Using the French government's modest estimates, we can transfer, via enhanced plant photosynthesis, 250 billion tons of this carbon back into the soil in the next 25 years.
How do we achieve those numbers? All we have to do is help just 10 percent of the world's farmers and ranchers adopt regenerative organic agriculture, holistic grazing and land management practices--and by help, we mean direct a portion of the billions of dollars earmarked for climate solution projects to farmers who regenerate, not degenerate, the world's soils.
That's a game changer. But only if enough players get in game.
The plan is here, the time is now
According to a December 1 press release from the French agriculture minister's office:
This initiative intends to show that a small increase of 4/1000 per year of the soil carbon stock (agricultural soils, notably grasslands and pastures, and forest soils) is a major leverage in order to improve soil fertility, resilience of farmers and contribute to the long-term objective of keeping the global average temperature increase below 2 degrees.
France's Agriculture Minister, Stephane Le Foll, said that Initiative partners, which so far include the UN, developed and developing states, international organizations, private foundations, international funds, NGOs, consumer, and farmers' organizations, have committed to implementing appropriate soil management practices, and to recognizing the importance of soil health for the transition towards productive, highly resilient agriculture.
Le Foll told the French media that the 4/1000 has become a global initiative, but it's just the beginning:
"We need to keep going and mobilize even more stakeholders in a transition to achieve both food security and climate mitigation thanks to agriculture."