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3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, March 2015. © INRA, MAITRE  Christophe

Climate change: COP21, research to find solutions

Updated on 12/14/2015
Published on 11/25/2015

From 30 November to 11 December 2015, France will be hosting and chairing the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties under the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP21.  This event should lead to adoption of the first legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

INRA mobilises a large proportion of its research resources in order to focus on issues linked to the impacts of climate change on agriculture, livestock breeding and forests.  It is developing methods to observe and predict them, and carrying out research designed to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Warnings of the impacts of climate change

For more than ten years, the Institute has closely involved itself in efforts by the French scientific community and increased its participation in the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  Jean-François Soussana was thus lead author of the chapter on Europe compiled by Working Group II for the  IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, which was published on 31 March 2014. And it should also be remembered that several INRA scientists had already contributed to the activities of the IPCC in the past, as the authors of different reports:

  • IPCC Second Assessment Report, 1995: Richard Delécolle, INRA Avignon,
  • IPCC Third Assessment Report, 2001: Jean-François Soussana, INRA Clermont-Ferrand,
  • Good Practice Guidance for Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry, 2003: Dominique Arrouays, INRA Orléans; Jean-Claude Germon, INRA Dijon and Denis Loustau, INRA Bordeaux,
  • IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, 2007: Jean-François Soussana, INRA Clermont-Ferrand,
  • In 2007, Bernard Seguin was one of the twenty members of the permanent IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Assessment (TGICA), responsible for policies on the dissemination of scientific findings on climate change and its impacts.

Proposing solutions

After the warnings, time for solutions

2015 has been punctuated by meetings between farmers, political decision-makers and scientists in which INRA has been involved in order to drive the construction and implementation of solutions.
On 20 February 2015, just before the Salon international de l'Agriculture, the farming community issued its proposals for solutions to deal with the issue of climate change.  INRA was involved in these efforts through its ability to highlight the already important impacts on agriculture and global food security.

The next stage was the 3rd Global Science Conference on Climate-smart Agriculture, organised from 16 to 18 March 2015 in Montpellier.  The scientists agreed as to the necessity for a commitment from all stakeholders to the need for interactions between science and politics, and between science and agriculture, in order to implement the agricultural transitions necessary to face the challenges of climate change.

From 7 to 10 July 2015 at UNESCO in Paris, scientists tried to envisage our common future in a context of climate change. During thematic day-long sessions, and based on the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, the conference highlighted the transition between current knowledge and future solutions.

Between 30 November and 11 December 2015, during COP21, INRA will be participating in several events organised at the site in Paris-Le Bourget and at the Grand Palais in Paris (if events within Paris, and thus at the Grand-Palais, are not cancelled). These events will provide the Institute with an opportunity to present a panorama of its research activities.
> For more information on INRA's presence at COP21

Focus on some key actions

10 measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by agriculture

French farming contributes nearly a fifth of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.  At the same time, it represents a potential for carbon storage.  The French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) and the Ministries for Agriculture and the Environment asked INRA to carry out a study of French agriculture in order to determine and analyse some ten actions concerning farming practices that might encourage carbon storage or reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Find out more >

4 per 1 000: Carbon storage in the soil, a research programme and action plan

The "4 parts per 1000" initiative aims to reconcile food security and climate change.  Some farming practices can contribute to mitigating climate change by storing carbon in soils, while at the same time improving soil fertility because carbon is an organic fertiliser. According to Jean-François Soussana, Scientific Director Environment at INRA, "A relative increase of 4 per 1000 per year in soil organic matter storage would be sufficient to compensate for all the planet's greenhouse gas emissions."
4 parts per 1000, why, how >

research and results

Understanding climate change, predicting its effects, mitigating it and adapting to it

Climate change: effects already visible on vegetation and livestock farming, solutions for reducing impact and adapting to changes.
Observing, modelling impact of climate change on agriculture, livestock farming and forestry, managing water resources, restoring soils and storing carbon, etc.
INRA research results >

Adaptation of agriculture and forests to climate change

A transversal research programme to understand the joint effects of the different global modifications caused by climate change on agricultural activity and terrestrial natural environments, and to reflect on adaptation strategies as well as their environmental and socio-economic consequences.
Actions and projects >

Transitions to global food security food security

The INRA-Cirad metaprogramme GloFoodS aims to mobilise a multidisciplinary scientific community to shed light on the different facets of food security.
Actions and projects >

INRA experts on climate change

The COP21 is the opportunity for experts at INRA to present some of their research which ranges from the impact of climate change on agricultural activity and natural terrestrial environments to adaptation strategies as well as their environmental and socio-economic consequences.
Meet some experts >