Lost in Climate Change Reports

The UN’s next global climate change conference is fast approaching. Hosted by France, the conference aims to achieve a new international agreement on the climate with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. This is not a new goal as we know – the Copenhagen Meeting in 2009 also wanted to reach the same.

Those interested might find it useful to read some recent reports on the topic to keep themselves up to date. However, by starting with the probably most well-known ones (IPCC’s climate change reports), one surely realises that their language becomes very hard to understand. In a recent article, a number of scientists analysed the language used by IPCC and concluded that her studies have become less readable over time.… Read the rest

Are the CAP 2013 proposals a major reform?

The economist’s dilemma

Economists evaluating the Commission’s legislative proposals for the CAP post 2013 face a dilemma.

Economists work within a paradigm in which agriculture is an industry no different from any other, where markets by and large do a good job in allocating resources, and where the only justification for government intervention requires both the existence of market failures and demonstrating that governments have access to relevant information or resources which would allow them to address those market failures effectively.

This is an extremely powerful toolkit because it allows economists to distinguish between welfare-enhancing policy interventions and those which are largely about shifting resources and rents from one group to another (the distinction between PERTs and PESTs using Gordon Rausser’s terminology in his well-known 1982 AJAE paper).… Read the rest

Changing global agricultural power

The Oxford Farming Conference which is held in the first week of January each year in the UK provides an opportunity for UK farming leaders to discuss the ‘big issues’ affecting the industry. This year, the Conference commissioned a report Power in Agriculture from the Scottish Agricultural College to examine the dynamics and implications of global agricultural power.

The purpose of the report was to examine where the economic, political and natural resource power currently lies in world agriculture, how that might change in the future, and what it means for British farmers. But the approach and findings clearly have a broader interest.… Read the rest

German call for reform of CAP payments

The German Council for Sustainable Development has just published a report highlighting the environmental damage caused by intensive agriculture and calling for a reform of the CAP direct payments system. It proposes a three-fold structure of payments: an environmental basic payment, a series of targeted agri-environmental payments for farmers who accept higher obligations, and a series of payments for high nature-value areas where the continuation of agricultural production is desirable but threatened on economic grounds.

For the environmental basic payment, it suggests that eligibility would be conditional on farmers turning over at least 10% of their area to environmentally-friendly husbandry with a view to maintaining a high level of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape throughout the EU.… Read the rest