At long last the United States and China have signed up to a binding international agreement, ensuring that they both carry an equitable share of the load when it comes to grappling with the challenge that is climate change.
As we all know agriculture will be front and centre when it comes to guaranteeing that the world’s population is fed sustainably on an ongoing basis. So, in truth, Washington’s and Bejing’s commitment to commit to the Paris COP 21 agreement, represents a milestone in getting the world’s most important food producers agreeing to an initiative that has the potential to make a real difference in the battle against ‘planetary overheating’.
Let’s not forget that less than 20 years ago the US said ‘NO’ to the principles enshrined within the Kyoto Protocol, drawing comment from many of the world’s leading climatologists of the time that the world’s only super power was living in denial.
So yes, last month’s commitment by the US and China to endorse the COP 21 targets has the potential to make a real difference as the planet faces up to its environmental responsibilities. But it’s only a start. All of the world’s leading nations must endorse COP 21 as a matter of priority. Without doubt, India and China are critical in this regard as both countries will be at the epicentre of the 50% growth in the world’s population, that has been predicted to become a reality over the next four decades. So, in the short term, these hubs of humanity could be excused for being more interested in delivering on their own food security needs rather than listening to grandiose messages regarding the need to save the planet.
The game changer in this debate can, as it turns out, be distilled from the numerous speeches given by Ireland’s former Farm Minister Simon Coveney as he successfully pulled together the strands of the last CAP deal during Ireland’s 2013 Presidency of the EU. On numerous occasions he highlighted the need for agriculture to be put on a ‘sustainable intensification’ footing. It is a term that ticks every conceivable box when it comes to putting the real challenge facing global agriculture into context. So let’s hope that the COP 21 agreement is the vehicle that will allow this potential to be converted into tangible reality.