Climate Change

An increasing number of studies have shown that biofuels derived from agricultural crops propose a false solution to the climate crisis and have created an unprecedented rush for land threatening land rights and food security globally.

The Facts

The current development landscape is dominated by Green Revolution ideals—improved or genetically modified seeds used in capital-intensive large-scale agriculture schemes with a prominent role for pesticides and fertilizers. Rather than contributing to food security and sovereignty, these efforts lead to large tracts of monoculture that prioritize export crops, require increased mechanization, and depend on multinationals for chemicals and seeds.

Agro-ecology provides another path. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers' livelihoods. Agro-ecological systems like the Rice Intensification implemented along the Niger River in Mali, can double small farmers’ agricultural output. Supporting smallholder farmers, who already produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in many developing regions, is the quickest way to lift over one billion people out of poverty.

Adhering to a high investigative standard with consideration of local impact and international trends, The Oakland Institute documents and advocates for agro-ecological farming methods that empower local producers.

The Institute’s thirty-three case studies released in 2015 shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.

7 Western-based multinationals control over 70% of global industrial seed sales.

79%—average crop yield increases based on a review conducted by the FAO in 57 low-income countries when factoring efficient use of water, reduced use of pesticides, and improvements in soil health.

Sustainable agriculture improves food supply, nutrition, and livelihoods in LDCs based on research by the UN and numerous other bodies.

Increased yields by 116% with a shift toward organic agriculture production i based on a UNEP-UNCTAD analysis of 114 cases in Africathat.

$192 million—estimated annual value gained from ecosystem services if half of the arable area under conventional farming is shifted to organic.

The current development landscape is dominated by Green Revolution ideals—improved or genetically modified seeds used in capital-intensive large-scale agriculture schemes with a prominent role for pesticides and fertilizers. Rather than contributing to food security and sovereignty, these efforts lead to large tracts of monoculture that prioritize export crops, require increased mechanization, and depend on multinationals for chemicals and seeds.

Agro-ecology provides another path. It encompasses a wide-variety of practices, which are coherent with key principles of environment preservation, social fairness, and economic viability. Agroecology combines parameters of sound ecological management, like minimizing the use of toxics by using on-farm renewable resources and privileging endogenous solutions to manage pests and disease, with an approach that upholds and secures farmers' livelihoods. Agro-ecological systems like the Rice Intensification implemented along the Niger River in Mali, can double small farmers’ agricultural output. Supporting smallholder farmers, who already produce over 80 percent of the food consumed in many developing regions, is the quickest way to lift over one billion people out of poverty.

Adhering to a high investigative standard with consideration of local impact and international trends, The Oakland Institute documents and advocates for agro-ecological farming methods that empower local producers.

The Institute’s thirty-three case studies released in 2015 shed light on the tremendous success of agroecological agriculture across the African continent. They demonstrate with facts and figures how an agricultural transformation respectful of the farmers and their environment can yield immense economic, social, and food security benefits while also fighting climate change and restoring soils and the environment.

International aid, consisting of resources supplied by one country to another, is critical to save lives, protect livelihoods, and finance reconstruction in communities wracked by war or natural disasters. While it is generally seen as an instrument of development for the poorest countries, wealthy donor nations also frequently provide aid in a manner that economically supports their own domestic industries or their foreign policy agendas.

USAID candidly states, “The principal beneficiary of America's foreign assistance programs has always been the United States… Foreign assistance programs have helped create major markets for agricultural goods, created new markets for American industrial exports and meant hundreds of thousands of jobs for Americans.” This pattern is particularly evident in the provision of US food aid. When USAID sells US wheat reserves on behalf of aid recipients and in turn asks recipients to purchase select commodities from US producers, this effectively subsidizes US farmers and undermines food producers in recipient countries.

In 1970, the world’s rich countries agreed to give 0.7% of their GNI (Gross National Income) as official international development aid annually. Year after year, almost all rich nations have consistently failed to reach this target—their aid accounts to 0.2 to 0.4% of their GNI on average.

In 2010, net official development assistance (ODA) flows from OECD countries reached $128.7 billion, representing an increase of 6.5% over 2009. However, aid still averaged only 0.32% of the combined GNI of donor countries—less than half of what had been promised long ago.

50% of US International Aid goes to just six countries that are US allies in the wars on terror and drug trafficking.

International aid is often criticized for its poor effectiveness. This is especially true for aid that comes attached with conditionalities and in-kind assistance, such as food aid, which has been shown to cost at least 30% more than locally sourced food aid.

Crop-based biofuels are produced from crops such as soy, corn, sugarcane and oil palm. In theory, fuel derived from biomass is carbon neutral, as the CO2 absorbed by plants is simply re-released when fuel is combusted. However, when considering the full “life cycle” of agro-fuels—from land clearing to burning to peat drainage to fertilizer use to transport—far more greenhouse gas is released in the production process.

Despite biofuel’s ambiguous environmental implications, as of January 2016, 64 countries have passed legislation mandating biofuel use in motor fuels. These mandates would secure the global production of 61 billion biofuel gallons per year by 2023. The US and the European Union in particular have turned abroad to secure land for fuel, and biofuel production is now the largest single impetus for land deals in the developing world. This land rush in the developing world has resulted in thorny environmental and social consequences. As food and fuel crops compete for land and resources, land deals for biofuel production have resulted in higher food prices, displaced communities, food insecurity, and permanent environmental damage.

What we are doing about it

The Oakland Institute is researching, monitoring, and evaluating the effects of increased biofuel demands on agricultural trends and land acquisitions globally. We have done extensive research on biofuel land investments in Africa and beyond.

Publications

Setting the Record Straight on Green Resources' Project in Uganda

With the recent publication of Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading , the Oakland Institute has brought forward irrefutable evidence that villagers were forcibly evicted to make way for the Norwegian company, Green Resources' tree plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The establishment of the plantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers has precipitated an on-going food...

Green Resources’ pine plantation in Kachung. Credit: Kristen Lyons / The Oakland Institute.

Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading

Evicted for Carbon Credits: Norway, Sweden, and Finland Displace Ugandan Farmers for Carbon Trading , brings forward irrefutable evidence that the Norwegian forestry and carbon credit company, Green Resources, forcibly evicted villagers around their plantation in Kachung, Uganda. The establishment of the plantation on land previously used by subsistence farmers precipitated an on-going food security crisis that has not been addressed by the...

Carbon Colonialism Report Cover

Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda

Carbon Colonialism: Failure of Green Resources’ Carbon Offset Project in Uganda exposes the continued and relentless attacks of Green Resources on the rights of local people and the environment in Kachung, Uganda. Following the Institute’s exposé in 2014 , revealing the mistreatment and violence perpetrated by the company in Uganda, Green Resources’ only carbon credit buyer, the Swedish Energy Agency, suspended funding...

The Darker Side of Green: Plantation Forestry and Carbon Violence in Uganda

The Darker Side of Green: Plantation Forestry and Carbon Violence in Uganda

In recent years, there has been a significant trend toward land acquisition in developing countries, establishing forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution generated in the Global North. Badged as “green economic development,” global carbon markets are often championed not only as solutions to climate change, but as drivers of positive development outcomes for local communities. But there is mounting evidence that these corporate land...

Eco-Skies report cover

Eco-Skies: The Global Rush for Aviation Biofuel

The aviation industry has high hopes for biofuels. As its profits are increasingly threatened by erratic fossil fuel prices, and as consumers are more and more concerned with the role of aviation in climate change, biofuels are being billed as the path to both profitability and sustainability. Unfortunately, emerging evidence suggests that as airlines rush to procure biofuel, they do so at the expense of people and the environment.

Pages

Blog

Flooded fields near the Shire and Linkhubula rivers in Malawi. The area is still recovering from the flooding after Cyclone Idai hit the country. Credit: GovernmentZA (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Failure of Input Subsidies and a New Path Forward to Fight Hunger in Malawi

Thursday, January 23, 2020 Andy Currier

On October 15th 2019, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhuma kicked off the 14th year of the country’s Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP). The program, which distributes vouchers to farmers that subsidize the cost of fertilizer and "improved" seed varieties, has been the dominant response to persistent food insecurity in the country.

Farmers prepare compost at a training at the Manor House Agricultural Center in Kenya. Copyright: MHAC

We Need Bold, Ambitious Action to Address the Climate Crisis – and Agroecology is the Answer

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 Elizabeth Fraser

With the clock ticking and the window for change narrowing each day that goes by, it is clear that we need a bold and ambitious campaign to invest in agroecological solutions that build robust, diverse, and resilient food systems in communities across the planet. The good news is, just as is evident in the Himalayas, such bold action won't just help us address climate change--it also has the potential to address systemic issues like poverty and...

Farmers march towards Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha as part of the Kisan Long March, Maharashtra. Credit: TheInnocentBystander, CC BY-SA 4.0

'Rights, Not Favors': Citizenship Lessons from India's Forests

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 Janhavi Mittal

Cries of Maharbani Nakko, hakk havet (keep your favors, we want our rights) rend the early-morning sky as 40,000 farmers and forest dwellers from Maharashtra arrived in Mumbai a little before midnight on March 11, 2018. Commencing from Nashik, and covering 180 kilometers in less than six days, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) led rally offered not only spectacular images of blistered, bloodied feet but a new unrelenting solidarity between the...

Green Resources Hedging Around Growing International Calls for Radical Reform of its Plantation Forestry Practices

Friday, March 25, 2016 Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby

Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby The Paris climate talks at the end of 2015 no doubt left some feeling as though global politics might have turned a little green. With a Climate Agreement aiming at keeping global temperature increase to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, national governments have some heavy lifting to do in cutting emissions. The green economy—including carbon markets and other payments for ecosystem services—is being...

Scalia Vacancy Puts in Play US Pledge to Paris Agreement

Monday, March 21, 2016 Victor Menotti

President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat of deceased Justice Antonin Scalia may begin a new battle between parties, but its resolution could clearly solidify or sink the 2015 Paris Agreement for climate protection just signed by almost 200 nations.