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Promoting an Open and Equitable Global Food System


Carbon Standards in Agricultural Production and Trade

October 26, 2010
São Paulo, Brazil

Governmental technical standards as well as food safety, animal and plant health standards have been commonplace in agricultural production and trade for many years, and are also established by the private sector.  Environmental standards for food and agricultural products (including biofuels) are a newer phenomenon. Such standards seek to ensure that agricultural products are produced sustainably, given the serious constraints facing the agricultural sector, in particular the shrinking availability of arable land and limited water resources. More recently, growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and land use change have led to a large number of carbon standards, some of them based on “life cycle analyses,” which seek to measure the entire carbon footprint of a particular product from its production to its consumption, and sometimes also seek to encompass indirect impacts. Participants included high-level representatives from agribusiness, farm associations, governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, and academia from around the world who came to discuss carbon standards in agricultural production and trade. 


Topics to be examined include:

  • Are standards an effective method for promoting sustainability?
  • What’s the interplay between public and private standards?
  • Who has a seat at the table when standards are set?
  • Is harmonization a realistic and feasible goal?
  • Issues surrounding biofuels sustainability standards
  • Carbon footprinting – is there a common understanding of what a life cycle analysis should entail?
  • Monitoring and verification

IPC is grateful for support from São Paulo's Federation of Industries (FIESP)

Background Briefs

Agenda & Presentations

Download the Full Agenda [PDF]

Opening Session:

  • Paulo Skaf , President FIESP
  • The Honorable Marcelo Regunaga, IPC
  • The Honorable João De Almeida Sampaio Filho, Secretary of Agriculture, São Paulo
  • The Honorable Wagner Goncalves Rossi, Minister of Agriculture, Brazil


Session I: The Debate over Biofuels

Seen by many as an excellent vehicle for reducing reliance on fossil fuel, biofuels are criticized by others as not making a sufficiently large contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Particular controversy surrounds the discussion on whether and how to calculate “indirect land-use.”

  • Marcos Jank, President and CEO, UNICA Presentation [PDF]
  • Signe Ratso, Director, WTO Affairs, OECD and Food-Related Sectors, DG Trade, European Commission. European Deliberations on ILUC Presentation [PDF]
  • Sonia Yeh, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California Davis. US Federal and State Level Approach to ILUC Presentation [PDF]

Moderator: Roberto Rodrigues, Coordinator of the Getulio Vargas Foundation Agribusiness Center; President of the Superior Council of Agribusiness of São Paulo’s Federation of Industries; IPC Member


Keynote Address:

The Honorable Tim Groser, Minister of Trade and Minister Responsible for International Climate Change Negotiations, New Zealand

Read the Minister's speech

Session II: An Analysis of Life Cycle Analysis

Life-cycle analyses (LCAs)– a calculation of a product’s total carbon footprint – are not only being applied to biofuels, but also to agricultural products more generally, with the private sector taking the lead.

  • Jason Clay, Vice President, World Wildlife Fund.  Value Chains and Carbon Presentation [PDF]
  • Kimberly Crewther, Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd.  LCAs for Dairy Presentation [PDF]
  • Richard Gilmore, President/CEO GIC Group Agriculture and Carbon Market Presentation [PDF]

Moderator: Roberto Waack, President of the International Board of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)


Session III: The Role of Governments and Trade Implications


  • Andre Nassar, General Director, ICONE WTO Considerations Presentation [PDF]
  • Hasit Shah, Sunripe. Challenges and Opportunities for Developing Countries Presentation [PDF]
  • David Orden, Professor, Virginia Tech, and Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI. The Political Economy of Standards.

Moderator: Pedro de Camargo, former Secretary of Agricultural Production and Trade; IPC member


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