Since the Industrial Revolution, a lot has been said about the devastating effects of climate change. But it is only last year, at the November 2015 COP21 talks held in Paris, France, that the world saw the playing field level leveled, after decades of inaction from some of the worst polluting global economies. Under the Paris Agreement, all the 189 countries across the globe were brought to commit to act on climate change for the first time (Irabagiza, 2016).
This came as a relief, seeing as numerous diplomatic efforts had frequented arenas of discussion on climate change but for over 20 years, had failed to enforce the terms of the Kyoto protocol–terms that would promote carbon emission reduction through carbon trade between the developed and developing countries. Rwanda became party to the Kyoto protocol in 2004; practically, this means that for every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) that are avoided or removed by a clean energy company or project in a developed or developing country (Rwanda inclusive), a dollar is earned by that company or project.
It is estimated that a small number of the world’s most polluting countries contribute to over 80 percent of the world’s carbon emissions from energy alone. While these economic giants benefit from steady economic progress, the developing world suffers disproportionately from the gaseous carbon emissions. As a result, unpredictable heavy rains and flooding, unprecedented and prolonged dry seasons affect the planting and harvesting seasons in developing countries (mostly African countries).
Climate change is taking place at a time of increasing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel and this has the potential to irreversibly damage the natural resource base on which agriculture depends. The relationship between climate change and agriculture is intertwined; agriculture contributes to climate change in several major ways and climate change in general adversely affects agriculture.
At the 7th African Agricultural Science Week taking place in Kigali, we expect to see different interventions that are being put in place by scientists to develop the agricultural sector. Let us hope that African scientists and governments will continue to push for an equal trade so that we avoid environmental suicide while we enjoy agricultural development.