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Ban: Future of Humanity Hinges on Copenhagen Climate Conference

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Above-normal temperatures were recorded in most parts of the Earth's continents, with large swathes of Southern Asia and Central Africa on track to have their warmest ever years in 2009. Also recorded in many parts of the world this year were climate extremes, including devastating floods, severe droughts and snowstorms.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has unveiled a new 60-million-dollar program to encourage sustainable low-emission agriculture in developing countries.

Agriculture is responsible for 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, but the sector also has the potential to slash output by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to the FAO.

The five-year scheme will bring many countries, organizations and donors, and the agency announced on Tuesday in Copenhagen that Finland has provided an initial contribution of nearly 4 million dollars.

"The overall challenge we are facing is to transform the technical mitigation potential of agriculture into reality," said FAO Assistant Director-general Alexander Muller.

Technologies and practices to sequester carbon in smallholder agriculture already exist, he said. These include conservation, organic agriculture, no or low tillage and use of compost or mulch, and account for almost 90 percent of agriculture's potential to curb or remove emissions from the atmosphere.

"However, barriers to adoption of these technologies and practices is a key challenge that needs to be overcome," Muller said. "The program aims to unlock the enormous mitigation potential of agriculture."

The new project seeks to set up a global database on both current and projected gas emissions in land and agriculture for key commodities, countries and regions. Currently, no data exists on emissions from individual commodities by country or by region, UN officials said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2009)

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