TWN Briefing 2

2nd Global Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change
3-7 September 2012, Hanoi, Vietnam

Published by Third World Network


De-linking Adaptation & Mitigation: The “Synergies” Myth
Mitigation markets will divert, not generate adaptation money

Based on a briefing by Climate Justice Now! Working Group on Agriculture and Forests

The myth of mitigation money

Some countries consistently imply that funding for mitigation through carbon markets can enable adaptation, and that the linkages and synergies between these are therefore important to emphasise in agriculture and climate change discussions.

The reality however, is that donor money designated for adaptation in developing countries is being diverted towards setting up carbon markets. This could be viewed as a gamble on the part of developing countries, on the expectation that use of their aid money might leverage more funds through the carbon markets. But is now clear that this gamble has not paid off. Years of experience have shown that carbon markets have not, do not, and will not generate or leverage significant or reliable funds for climate projects.

World Bank figures show that of $144 billion dollars in global carbon market volume in 2010, only 0.2 percent of that amount went to project-based transactions [1]. The rest went to carbon commodity speculators and carbon consultants [2]. The plummeting price of carbon (projected to reach €3 per ton) further underlines that funds generated from carbon markets will be minimal.

Agricultural adaptation must therefore be de-linked from mitigation, to prevent the diversion of resources from adaptation towards measurement, reporting and verification of carbon stocks [3].

A focus on adaptation

Carbon market finance for mitigation is unlikely to incentivise the projects that address the urgent, diverse and complex adaptation needs of developing countries. Instead, it is likely to create a focus on particular mitigation-based activities, to the neglect of direct investments for adaptation.

Adaptation must be the main focus of agriculture and climate change discussions, de-linked from mitigation. Parties to the UNFCCC must prioritize agriculture within the Adaptation Framework, in the Nairobi work programme and the work programme on loss and damage.

As they develop their National Adaptation Plans, governments should incorporate policies and actions towards agroecological climate-resilient [4] agriculture, in particular provision of support to smallholders in the adoption of agroecology. Developed countries should provide funding for these actions through bilateral and multilateral climate finance and other mechanisms. Countries should also encourage and facilitate transfer of agriculture technologies relevant to reducing vulnerabilities and building of adaptive capacity and resilience in agricultural systems.

 [1] State and Trends of the Carbon Market, World Bank, 2010

[2] Clear as Mud: why agriculture and soils should not be included in carbon offset schemes, The Gaia Foundation, 2011

[3] Ecological Agriculture, Climate Resilience, and How to Get There. Third World Network, 2012

[4] “Resilience” is defined as the ability of a system to withstand or recover from external shocks.