Delegates from nearly 200 countries are holding more and more late-night sessions to seal an agreement by Friday evening, and sending out positive signals that success is in sight.

Yet key issues remain to be decided, such as the overall global warming cap for this century (+1.5°C or +2°C) and how to raise $100bn per year to help poorer countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The text still recognises “the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security” and includes a commitment to “pursue sustainable development in a manner that fosters climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions, and that does not threaten food production and distribution”.

However, all mentions of “land use”, covering industries such as agriculture and forestry, have been removed from the latest draft. A number of emerging food-producing countries such as Argentina opposed any such explicit references to agriculture’s contribution to climate change mitigation.

Implicit mention of agriculture

Instead, land-based industries are mentioned in a roundabout way through a reference to “sinks and reservoirs” of carbon as defined by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which “include[es] biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems”.

In the Irish delegation, this is regarded as a reasonable outcome considering initial disagreements. Farming organisations, however, are still pushing for a stronger mention of agriculture that would provide a level playing field and help farmers in poorer countries face climate challenges.

Listen to an interview with World Farmers Organisation president Evelyn Nguleka in our podcast below:

Environmentalists, too, are keeping pressure on negotiators in the final hours of the talks. They staged a protest at the site of the conference against the weaknesses in the latest draft agreement on Wednesday evening. “This draft text is long on aspiration but very short on action. The platitudes of the political speeches have not translated into concrete pledges of action back home,” said Friends of the Earth Ireland chair Cara Augustenborg.

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