Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Must Farmers do to Meet Emission Targets?

Reducing emissions from agriculture to meet the 2°C target (19 page pdf, E. Wollenberg, M. Richards, P. Smith, P. Havlík, M. Obersteiner, F.N. Tubiello, M. Herold, P. Gerber, S. Carter, A. Reisinger, D. van Vuuren, A. Dickie, H. Neufeldt, B.O. Sander, R. Wassmann, R. Sommer, J.E. Amonette, A. Falcucci, M. Herrero, C. Opio, R. Roman-Cuesta, E. Stehfest, H. Westhoek, I. Ortiz-Monasterio, T. Sapkota, M.C. Rufino, P.K. Thornton, L. Verchot, P.C. West, J.-F. Soussana, T. Baedeker, M. Sadler, S. Vermeulen, B.M. Campbell, Global Change Biology, May 17, 2016)

Also discussed here: New study sets climate target for agriculture (IIASA News, May 17, 2016) 

Today we review an assessment of approaches voluntarily proposed by 119 nations as Nationally Determined Contributions for COP21 in Paris to mitigate non CO2 emissions from the agricultural sector. Currently available approaches would deliver as little as 21% of the mitigation required to meet the 2 Deg C goal by 2030. The authors call for a range of innovative methods including carbon pricing, sequestering soil carbon and shifting dietary patterns and breeding cattle to produce less methane. Although agriculture is rural, some cities such as Ottawa, Canada contain more farmland (40% of rural area or 300,000 acres) and so must face up to the challenges in reducing greenhouse gases in this sector, as well as in transportation and the heating and cooling of buildings- and make this part of urban climate action plans.

 cattle emissions  

Key Quotes:

 “Agriculture (not including land use change) contributes an average of 35% of emissions in developing countries and 12% in developed countries today.”

“the agricultural sector must reduce non-CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons per year in 2030, a 17% reduction compared to the reference level projections of about 5.8 GtCO2eq…currently available interventions would only deliver between 21-40% of mitigation required as follows:
“Promising technical innovations on the horizon include recently developed methane inhibitors that reduce dairy cow emissions by 30% without affecting milk yields, breeds of cattle that produce lower methane, and varieties of cereal crops that release less nitrous oxide. ..more ambitious mitigation include introducing more rigorous carbon pricing, taxes and subsidies; … Focusing more attention on sequestering soil carbon, increasing agroforestry, decreasing food loss and waste and shifting dietary patterns “

 “international trade can bring a big potential for mitigation, by helping to encourage more production in the most efficient regions. However, without global targets for emissions reductions, decentralized approaches to climate mitigation could lead to inadequate pressure to decrease emissions from highly inefficient system such as those in Europe or North America

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