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COP26 blog: "I'm on a mission to put farmers at the centre of climate action"

COP 26 - a global conference that tackles the climate crisis - is coming to Glasgow in November 2021. Named the “26th session of the Conference of the Parties” – shortened to COP26 - the conference is a vital coming together of countries and actors to discuss how climate change will be tackled and to agree global and national targets.

Kicking off our countdown to COP26 blog series - profiling voices from across ECCI's community of climate experts, researchers, students and practitioners, in the lead up to the conference - we hear from farmer and online Carbon Innovation student, Mateusz Ciasnocha.

Hi Mateusz. Please introduce yourself and your work.

I'm an active regenerative farmer from northern Poland on a mission to put farmers at the centre of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, in a profitable way.

From 2004 onwards (the year of Polish accession to the EU), my family's farm has transitioned from conventional, to regenerative agricultural production. Building on our family farm's first-hand experience and my global network - developed over ten years of studying and working globally - my brother Pawel and I created European Carbon Farmers - a business focused on promoting carbon farming and developing agricultural carbon credit payments mechanisms in Poland.

I'm currently a student at the PgCert in Carbon Innovation at ECCI. I was drawn to studying here by the excellent research expertise and extensive Carbon Masters network, which has fed into my work on European Carbon Farmers.

I wouldn't be anywhere close to where I am right now with my mission without the Carbon Masters programme and - very importantly! - the network available to me via ECCI.

I'm also super privileged to be putting my mission into action through my work as a Climate Champion and Regenerative Agriculture Fellow for COP26 - Race to Zero, on EIT Food's Regenerative Agriculture Programme in Poland/Central-Eastern Europe and through the Economy of Francesco [video].

Finally, I am delighted to say that my work has been recognized by the UN Food Systems Summit with the invitation to join the UN FSS Champions network.

What are your hopes for COP 26?

Our actions this year can make a difference to the future of our planet - that's why I've made a commitment to do everything in my power to make this true.

2021 is a tremendously important year - this is particularly true for the agricultural sector as the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the United Nations Biodiversity Summit and COP26 are all taking place.

Agriculture is significant because it interacts with all other systems, including the economic and natural systems we are all dependent on.

I was invited to join the COP26 - Race to Net Zero Climate Champions team as a Regenerative Fellow. My job is to make sure farmers, in particular young farmers and those from the Global South, are represented prior, at and beyond COP26. In particular, we want farmers and farm organizations to subscribe to the Paris-aligned 1,5 degrees goal.

I have three main hopes for COP26:

  • That non-states actors subscribe at scale to the Paris-aligned 1,5 degrees goal and do so in a science-based way.
  • That the agricultural sector and farmers, in particular, are a critical part of the goal one above.
  • That despite extremely difficult nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate action is happening at the scale and pace required to reach the Paris Agreement goal in a just, fair and equitable manner. With farmers at the centre of the solution, of course!

What's you view on ECCI, Scotland and Edinburgh’s role at COP26?

As a representative of the Climate Champions, I want to stress that everyone is important at COP26. Whether you're a business, an investor, a city, a region, a university, or - very importantly - an individual, COP26 is there for you.

As we say at the Race to Zero, we are all in a race and we are all invited to win it. We can do it and we will do it.

With that in mind, ECCI, Edinburgh and Scotland's role is pivotal at COP26, especially as the conference is taking place in Scotland.

But ultimately, everyone, everywhere is part of COP26 and I'm delighted to be representing, as well as mobilizing, farmers as part of our global and cross-cutting efforts.

What’s your ultimate goal?

As you can tell from all the work I'm doing, I'm passionate about climate action and recognize the global strategic climate, security and geopolitical importance of agriculture but at the core, I'm a farmer (and I grow it!).

My ultimate goal is to set up a new regenerative farm, which will be the base for my future family. Just like my parents are proud farmers, I want my kids to answer "Farmers!" when someone asks them what their parents do for a living.

COP26 and ECCI

Find out more about how ECCI is involved with COP26 and keep up to date with the latest events, news and opportunities via the University's Social Responsibility and Sustainability team and ECCI events page.