Climate Change Mitigation, organic Agriculture and Human health: Status Quo and New Data

The event took place as planned at the European Parliament in Brussels, during the 2018 EU Green Week, according to the final programme reproduced below. The participants who attended are those who signed the attached participants’ list. The names without signatures are of the persons who had registered, but did not finally attend.Ppt presentations by guest speakers are available with the Organiko project Lead partner, the Cyprus University of Technology.


 

Professor Lučka Kajfež Bogataj outlined, with a specific focus on the Mediterranean region, where we stand with climate change, its actual effects and future scenarios. She stressed the importance and urgency of ambitious mitigation, adaptation and energy literacy policies. As review editor for the next IPCC report, due to be published next November, on the difference of impacts in plus 1.5 degrees and plus 2 degrees scenarios in global mean temperatures, during the discussion which followed the panel presentations, she anticipated that the +1.5 increase is expected around 2025, while collected data indicate an exponential growth in extreme meteorological events in the years affected by the temperature increases between +1.5. and +2 degrees. Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety analyzed the current proposals by Commission, Council and Parliament in the discussion on the EU energy and climate package. He argued that more needs to be done and that the 2030 targets should be increased if the Paris Agreement may have a chance of delivering on the promises shared by the world leaders when signing it.  Neoklis Sylikiotis, Member of the European Parliament’s Conference of Delegation Chairs and of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, recalled the negative climate change impacts already occurring in Cyprus and elaborated on the priority to be given to mitigation programmes. He underlined delays on ambitious EU energy and climate targets implementation and argued that the EU has a special responsibility not only towards its own citizens, but also towards other world regions.Professor Ioannis M. Ioannides, Head of Agrobiotechnology Department, Agricultural Research Institute, of the  Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of the Republic of Cyprus, presented the findings of the study Comparative greenhouse gas emission rates from organic farming vs conventional plots, carried out within the Organiko project, detailing the various greenhouse gas (GHG) substances and components which may benefit by organic farming methodologies and protocols, in comparison with conventional agricultural practices. The findings are clear and show the improvement to soil and climate which the organic farming may contribute. The discussion following the panel presentations has stressed the replicability of the Organiko study results to other areas with climatic conditions similar to those involved in the study, with the proposal that the new Common Agricultural Policy, to be decided in the coming months by the European institutions, take into account also the conclusions of the study presented by Professor Ioannides. Andrea Vettori, Deputy Head of Unit - Land Use & Management Unit – DG Environment of the European Commission, elaborated on the Commission’s land management priorities in agriculture. He emphasized how crucial the soil dimension is also for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes and provided participants with an overview of the situation in the various Member States, arguing that more needs to be done in territorial planning to protect European soils and taking into consideration their rich diversity. Eric Gall, IFOAM EU Deputy Director – Policy Manager introduced to participants the results of the LIFE SOLMACC, Organic farmers countering climate change project, indicating complementarities with the Organiko one. Within SOLMACC 12 organic farms in Sweden, Germany and Italy have applied four innovative climate-friendly farming practices: optimised on-farm nutrient recycling; optimised crop rotation with legume-grass leys; optimised tillage system and agroforestry. The farms’ GHG emissions have been reduced significantly compared to average farms under similar climatic conditions using rigorous scientific monitoring and each farms’ ability to adapt to the negative effects of climate change has improved significantly.  Other co-benefits such as positive impacts on soil quality, biodiversity and resource conservation have been demonstrated and policy recommendations elaborated, to influence the EU political debate around climate change and agriculture.Konstantinos C. Makris, Associate Professor of Environmental Health at the Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus International Institute for Environmental and Public Health and Coordinator of the Organiko project,  has dedicated his speech to the ORGANIKO LIFE+ children health project results: a cross over trial using organic diet for 40 days for about 150 children in Cyprus. While the detailed results of the research exercise – at the moment the only one carried out in the EU – are under embargo until further notice, the general results are very encouraging. Floriana Cimmarusti, Secretary General of SAFE, Safe Food Advocacy Europe has shared the priority initiatives of her European network and elaborated on the positive impact of organic food on human health, a win-win agricultural methodology, she argued, because it does good to soils, health, the environment, the growth of qualified employment and climate.