Changes in agriculture could cut sector non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent

From Eurekalert

Public Release: 17-Dec-2018

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

The agricultural sector is the world’s largest source of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions, and IIASA-led research has found that changing agricultural practices and a shift in diet away from meat and dairy products could reduce the sector’s emissions by up to 50% by 2050 compared to a situation without mitigation efforts.

IIASA researcher Stefan Frank led the team which carried out the first detailed analysis of agricultural non-CO2 mitigation using a combination of four different global economic models and assessed the reduction potential. They used the carbon price in the models to estimate the mitigation potential of each option, although Frank stresses that carbon taxes are not considered a likely policy instrument for the agricultural sector in reality.

“We gain insights on the contribution of different mitigation options across regions and identify robust emission reduction strategies both on the supply and demand side,” he says.

Efforts in the agricultural sector alone could reduce up to 15% of agricultural methane and nitrous oxide emissions by 2050, a total of 0.8-1.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (GtCO2e/y), at an already low cost of US$20/t CO2e. Dietary changes in overconsuming countries could contribute additional reductions of 0.6 Gt CO2e/y, a total emissions reduction of 23%.

The researchers used the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM), developed at IIASA, and CAPRI, IMAGE, and MAGNET, developed by the University of Bonn, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and Wageningen University, respectively, to model eight carbon price trajectories ranging from US$20/t CO2e emitted, to US$950/t CO2e by 2050 to estimate the economic emission reduction potential from the sector. This highest figure is thought to be the price needed to meet the 1.5°C climate stabilization target across all sectors of the economy.

At the highest carbon prices of US$950/t CO2e, agriculture could achieve emissions reductions of 3.9 Gt CO2e/y by 2050, 50% lower than the baseline scenario without climate change mitigation efforts.

Methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture currently make up 10-12% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and the percentage is growing, largely thanks to the increased use of synthetic fertilizers and growing ruminant herds. Since 1990, emissions have increased by a third, but the data shows that production is up by 70%, so agriculture is becoming more efficient over time. If the world is to meet the 1.5°C climate stabilization target set out under the Paris Agreement, however, these emissions will need to fall.

The beef and dairy industries are highly greenhouse gas intensive, and across all models and carbon price scenarios, had the potential to contribute more than two thirds of the total mitigation potential in agriculture.

Frank and his colleagues identified three areas for mitigation on the supply side – technical options such as animal feed supplements to improve feed digestibility or anaerobic digesters, structural options, which are more fundamental changes to agriculture such as changes to crop and livestock portfolios, and production effects such as changes in production levels. Demand side options involved consumers in developed and emerging countries switching to diets with fewer animal products.

“Steering mitigation action towards a limited number of regions, such as Africa, China, India, and Latin America, and commodities such as beef and milk, which are characterized by relatively high emission intensities, would allow for the realization of substantial emissions savings on the supply side,” says Frank.

The models show that as carbon prices rise, technical and structural options become exhausted, after which emissions reductions can be achieved through reducing production and consumption of greenhouse gas intensive products, such as meat and dairy. Such dietary changes would have an added benefit. As demand drops in overconsuming countries, less nitrous oxides and methane is emitted while at the same time it would also yield a more balanced distribution of the calorie intake from meat and dairy across more world regions with benefits for food security.

“The models agree that diet change can contribute only part of the efforts needed to achieve the 1.5°C climate stabilization target and policymakers should not forget about the production side measures which in this study provide the large majority of the mitigation potential.” says IIASA researcher and coauthor Petr Havlík. “The comparison across multiple models also shows that there are still substantial uncertainties in the reference level non-CO2 emissions development and the related mitigation potential. Unless these uncertainties are reduced, they will need to be factored in the plans of deployment of negative emissions technologies”.

As countries will have to periodically monitor progress and take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the insights provided in the study could help policymakers to identify regional mitigation priorities in the sector and have a better understanding of the potential contribution of agriculture.

###

 

Reference

Frank S, Havlík P, Stehfest E, van Meijl H, Witzke P, Pérez-Domínguez I, van Dijk M, Doelmann JC et al. (2018) Agricultural non-CO2 emission reduction potential in the context of the 1.5°C target. Nature Climate Change DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0358-8 [pure.iiasa.ac.at/15632]

More information about the models:

GLOBIOM (IIASA) – http://globiom.org/

CAPRI (EuroCARE) – http://www.capri-model.org

IMAGE: (PBL) – https://models.pbl.nl/image/index.php/IMAGE_framework

MAGNET: (WECR) – http://www.magnet-model.org/

 

About IIASA:

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policymakers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by prestigious research funding agencies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. http://www.iiasa.ac.at

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68 thoughts on “Changes in agriculture could cut sector non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent

  1. Why don’t we all just suck nectar and practice Yoga all day. Sure the environment cannot object to that?

    • By necessity it must be Hot Yoga as the cloudy windless summer day won’t allow you the energy necessary to run your A/C

    • By changed diet they mean have a few days per week without food, otherwise the numbers won’t stand up to scrutiny. Basically you will be allotted days on which you can eat, eco-warrior mentality at it’s finest.

  2. Or you could simply do what the Left caroming crowd appears to desire and eliminate 80% of the global populace thereby vastly decreasing demand.
    Now if we could just target the Left side of the Carom Table with those requested reductions we could place the Earth back on the Right Path

  3. About IIASA “The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is an international scientific institute that conducts research into the critical issues of global environmental, economic, technological, and social change that we face in the twenty-first century. Our findings provide valuable options to policymakers to shape the future of our changing world. IIASA is independent and funded by prestigious research funding agencies in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe. ”

    Ummmm ? In other bloody words do not know diddle squat about how successful countries of this world grow and feed their people. Do we really have to be bombed with this sham fake ‘non-science’ ?

    • Yes nicholas: If all the objectives of this report are implemented the plants will get starved of CO2. Now that would be a problem.

      • Think the human race has hit Peak Stupid, you ain’t seen NOTHIN’ yet! Anyone who thinks eating nasty, watery vegetables and sugar-bomb fruits is “good” for you needs to read, cover-to-cover, the seminal work of Dr. Weston A. Price, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Take a GOOD look at the before and after pix of tribesmen the world over who switched from their traditional diets, high in animal products and devoid of refined grains and sugars, and the trainwreck their health became.
        Especially their kids. Horrendous!

        People talk about lowering sperm counts, the sudden fashion for sexual confusion, and birth rates below replacement. These things all can be 100% correlated with decreased consumption of the core building blocks of the human brain and body–red meat and butter from pastured cattle, wild caught oily fish, and their replacement with SAD-CRAP: “Standard American Diet, Carbohydrates Refined And Processed.” The vegans will just plain take themselves out of the gene pool.

        • Many anthropologists think it was a meat heavy diet after the invention of fire that caused mankind’s brain to rapidly expand over a relatively few number of generations. The desire to restrict meat is part of the effort by elites to dumb down the people and make them more compliant for being manipulated. If these idiots had their way, meat would get so expensive that only the elites will be able to eat meat.

          “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

    • Another study designed to attack first world….

      and a shift in diet away from…rice

      …can’t go there

  4. “If the world is to meet the 1.5°C climate stabilization target set out under the Paris Agreement, however, these emissions will need to fall.”

    Since there is no need to meet the conditions of the Paris disAgreement, these emissions do not need to fall.
    Case closed. No further discussion needed.

    • “the 1.5°C climate stabilization target”

      One of the most farcical bits of NON-SCIENCE nonsense ever invented. !!

      • Yes, apparently they want to ‘stabilize’ seasonal variability and equalize the climate from the poles to the equator.

        It’s beyond comprehension that these idiots consider the ‘natural’ state of the climate system to be static. If the climate wasn’t always changing, it would be broken.

        The only time the climate will ever be static is long after the Sun dies, leaving a cinder of Earth behind cooled to a constant few degrees K.

  5. This is all predicated on the speculation that greenhouse gases are bad for the planet, the evidence and proof for which has not yet been replicated, validated or verified.

    What next? When will they ban us from breathing?

    • I have yet to see an analysis of the climate sensitivity of Methane and/or nitrous oxide such as that done by Moncton of Brenchly for the court filing in California re CO2. His filing showed the science was WRONG regarding the feedback calculations. I suspect the same error may have occurred regarding methane and nitrous oxide. It may be possible that no amount of reduction of those molecules would have any real affect on the global temperature for thousands of years.

      • The climate sensitivity has one and only one value which is independent of the origin of the W/m^2 of forcing. The IPCC and its cohorts try to obfuscate this by claiming the sensitivity is 3C for doubling CO2. There are so many levels of indirection and misdirection between a testable sensitivity metric quantified as W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and an unverifable sensitivity metric of 3C from doubling CO2 that it leads alarmists and many skeptics down a rat hole of illogical reasoning, mostly involving impossibly large amounts of ‘feedback’. But then again, this is the point of all the obfuscation.

        The ONLY sensitivity metric that matters is 1.62 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and that each W/m^2 of forcing has the same effect on the surface. Any other metric is unmitigated BS, unquantifiable with theory, unmeasurable from the data, contradicted by the laws of physics and its only purpose is to provide a false justification for the repressive agenda of the UNFCCC.

        The actual sensitivity is the Planck sensitivity metric corresponding to a gray body with an emissivity of 0.62. The fundamental error made is that feedback can somehow amplify the Planck sensitivity by a factor of 3-4, which the laws of physics tell us can only occur by changing the effective emissivity (0.62 for the Earth) and not by modifying the 4 in the T^4 relationship between degrees and W/m^2 which is otherwise required to support the IPCC’s bogus sensitivity. To increase the Planck sensitivity by a factor of 3 requires reducing the effective emissivity from 0.62 down to about 0.23 which would require the surface emissions to be 1039 W/m^2 corresponding to a surface temperature of 368K, which is close to the boiling point of water and an obvious falsification of the claimed sensitivity.

  6. Termites emit about as much methane as livestock. So instead of reducing the world’s livestock, why don’t we simply eliminate all the world’s termites? (Do I need a sarc tag?)

  7. Who about a trial run, the next COP conference to be made meat free and while we are at it no fossil fuelled cars transportation to the conference made by train only, no airconditioing or heating.

    • What?! If they stop being MASSIVE hypocrites we might have to listen now and then, well no, but they would gain some credibility from the 0.00 credibility they have now.

  8. Efforts in the agricultural sector alone could reduce up to 15% of agricultural methane …

    The methane canard needs to be exposed. Nowhere will you find any mention of how much increasing methane will run up global temperatures. All you will find is reference to the Global Warming Potential of the gas. And that number means absolutely nothing.

  9. No beef and pizza? Dark ages looming. Cant believe people will take that without a fight but maybe thats why they want lithium in the water supplies

  10. With having a half life of only 7 years, methane from farm life could be quickly reduced if global temperatures started to rise rapidly (which isn’t happening). Further, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrous_oxide#/media/File:Major_greenhouse_gas_trends.png nitrous oxide levels have risen about 30 parts per billion in the last 40 years! not very scary. Having been a Dentist until retirement, I think they have been sampling nitrous bottles too much!

  11. ” … a more balanced distribution … meat & dairy across more world regions …” the authors actually say. I guess the danger from animal husbandry is not absolute, but relative to who the authors deem suitable beneficiaries of CO2 equivalent emissions.

    And, as someone asked in a prior WUWT post comment thread, what is the shared sacrifice that rice consumers should make to reduce methane emissions associated with rice production? Maybe the authors should get on the old cocconut wireless & learn the vaunted Paris Agreement is already a non-performing relic.

  12. To translate the double-speak, if we price agricultural greenhouse emissions high enough, then only the wealthy will be able to afford meat and milk. Too bad for those in poorer nations.

    • There are plenty of people in fly-over-country whose primary source of protein is what they hunt.

      Agriculture just makes obtaining a reliable source of protein more efficient while profiting those who provide the service.

      Instead of cattle, poultry and swine, there will be a growing market for “wild” game (wild both in nature of the animal and the lack of inspection and processing standards) and the quality of life takes another step backwards.

  13. I wonder what the gas emissions levels are coming from this pile of 100% pure unadulterated bovine excrement? Potent stuff indeed.

  14. A couple of snippets without the baggage:
    Paraphrasing:
    “They used 4 different economic models….with carbon pricing…. {which is not considered a likely policy} …. to assess mitigation potential”
    With the conclusion: “As carbon prices rise, technology options become exhausted and saving
    happen through reduced production and consumption.”

    Wow…..now that must be a paper worth reading….

    Normal human summary: In our narrow view of the world we can only see less ag-co2 by producting and consuming less.”

    • I had a hard time continuing on after coming to the word “robust” in the third paragraph.
      Skipped right down to the important stuff…the comment thread.
      I did pause to note that they seem to have singled out some poorer regions for a targeted program to keep them from getting a more nutritious diet, i.e. one with more meat, cheese and dairy.
      They truly are evil people-hating sh**heads.

  15. CH4 is ~1.8ppm/v. Why are they worried about that given forests and termites emit more than human agriculture could ever? And, again, models!!!! GIGO!

  16. Boy that tipping point keeps getting small and smaller every report, soon it will be 0.798 C . One more 1/1000 of a degree and we’re doomed, DOOOMEDZ IZ TELZ YA!!!!
    Well I’m doing my part, cause I cannot afford to eat meat anymore! Time to go back to what my Grandpa did, start hunting/fishing to put meat on the table. I’m sure that the enviro nut jobs will be pleased when poaching wipes out everything walking, swimming or crawling like developing nations around the world.
    Start stock piling guns and amo now, this isn’t going to end well.

  17. “as carbon prices rise, technical and structural options become exhausted, after which emissions reductions can be achieved through reducing production and consumption of greenhouse gas intensive products, such as meat and dairy. “

    Some one needs to inform the Liberal Arts Major Green snowflakes that the ice cream they enjoy has milk as a key ingredient. And milk comes from dairy cows.
    And that frothy foam on their Starbuck’s Latte… cow’s milk also.

    The Leftist Green’s clearly live in fantasy land of unicorns and fairies where reality of our modern world never intrudes on their safe space.

  18. International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis: “The agricultural sector is the world’s largest source of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions”

    WR: Totally wrong: the oceans are the largest source of non-CO2 greenhouse gases emissions: water vapor H2O. The number of H2O molecules in the atmosphere is around 25 times the number of CO2 molecules. As water stays around 10 days in the air (https://www.britannica.com/science/hydrosphere/The-water-cycle) every day (!) two and a half times the total number of atmospheric CO2 molecules is emitted by oceans and plants/trees. Too significant a number to overlook.

    What about H2O, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis?

  19. I belive Venezuela has put their recommebdations into practice. Word is another 2 million Venezuelans will be fleeing Venezuela in 2019. That will leave plenty of room for the paper’s authors and their acolytes.

  20. Of course all the deligates at the Polish conference only had vegs for their ml. ?

    So lets kill off the livestock we eat, no more. So what hap[pens to the land area, why nature takes over and they too all breath out, and worse thery too fart.

    MJE

  21. “<em<The beef and dairy industries are highly greenhouse gas intensive, …”

    Thanks for the information.
    I feel it is my duty to keep CO2 rising. I’ll use the word “robust” here. [See Menicholas at 4:43 pm ]
    The Earth’s growing things are more robust at a level of CO2 well above the 280, 350 or whatever.
    I had beef last night and for lunch today. I do my part.

    Be of good cheer, all.

  22. The study is bogus because they forgot to include consideration of the primary greenhouse gas, H2O. Considering that H2O accounts for most of the radiant greenhouse effect I doubt that changing our diet will have any significant effect on the overall radiant greenhouse effect if there actually is such a thing.

    • The radiant GHG effect is the only effect they have and when combined with a similar effect from the liquid and solid water in clouds results in increasing surface emissions beyond the forcing by 600 mw per Watt of forcing. The foundational error made by the IPCC is applying nebulous positive feedback to amplify the 600 mw up to 3.3 Watts of additional surface emissions per Watt of forcing.

      This error is so obvious, but also so large, that many on both sides have a hard time accepting that an error this big is even possible as the result from ostensibly intelligent scientists. They don’t account for the fact that political bias, much like a lack or protein in the diet, makes people stupid, and this also applies to those ostensibly intelligent scientists.

  23. If you want to control YOUR portions, fine. That’s your choice. Don’t you dare try to control mine or anyone else’s, especially by using government force. That’s tyranny and will not be tolerated.

  24. They’re coming for the ranches and farmers next. That’s what they said they were going to do, and that’s what they’re doing.

  25. Does the model determine how much new farmland is needed to grow the protein-containing crops that will be needed if meat is no longer produced? Is that much land available? Does it include the emissions from this added farming? Does it include the added greenhouse gas emissions from management of farm waste that is no longer consumed by farm animals?

  26. Much of the land currently used for livestock production is not suitable for arable farming, as it too steep, wrong soil type, too wet, too dry etc.
    Consider the vegetarian Inuit, Maasai, Australian rancher and Mongolian sheep/goat herder?

  27. Science progresses one death at a time

    Not any more.
    Science is going backwards, millions of deaths per annum.
    Deaths from ‘diseases’ and causes that were unknown barely 80 years ago.
    40% (at least) of everyone who passes away today, tomorrow etc etc will have died through one of those ‘Modern Day Diseases’

    Yet it was known, two hundred years ago that a diet high in animal fat was the key to being tall, svelte & elegant, alert & intelligent, good humoured & empathic plus- relative immunity to common ailments.
    Generally, a diet including animal fat was the key to good physical and mental health.

    Take a walk through a shopping mall, a busy supermarket, glance at ‘science’, ‘education’ and ‘politics’.
    Do you see people displaying (m)any more than even just one of the above characteristics.?

    And even the Lead Picture into this article is ‘less than correct’ – I don’t see a lot of fat on that lump of meat.
    And what does the wine represent if not a symbol of ‘animal blood’
    The drinking of same being held in a small, intimate and deeply reverential ceremony that hunters would hold after catching/killing their prey to give thanks to ‘raise a toast’ and say Thank You to the animal they’d just caught.
    Thank you for giving *your* life that we may have ours.

    And alcohol drinking now?
    One Big Phat Joke, a Flat Out Lie about ‘being social’ and an opportunity to get even more dumb & stupid than the lack of fat in our diet brings on.
    Even before (how) many of us were inflicted with Kwashkior in the first 3 years of our lives through being bottle-fed babies.

    How do you, how does anyone, even start to turn that one around?

    How many will die before that science progresses?
    It has to progress, because Climate Science is a direct consequence of our current low standard of nutrition.
    Simply, the lack of fat.

  28. 70% of the earth’s land surface is classified as “rangeland”. It is only suitable for grazing.

    Remove livestock from it and vegetation will still grow, and it will be eaten by methane-article g animals, methane-farting termites, or smoke and co2-producing fires.

    This doesn’t include the montane, forested and wetland areas that are also unfit for crop-farming. They certainly aren’t thinking too hard about what happens to those remaining acres that are supposed to grow all of our food.

    Then there is the question of what we do with the products of cropping that are not fit for human consumption and which are currently fed to livestock.

    More waste…,,

  29. Here is a nice compilation of 30 natural systems in which global warming exerts both an effect and the opposite of that effect

    It was first posted by Jimbo then re-posted by Pierre Gosselin at NoTricksZone, with links to papers:

    http://notrickszone.com/2011/03/30/robust-science-more-than-30-contradictory-pairs-of-peer-reviewed-papers/

    Here they are as a text list:

    Amazon dry season greener
    Amazon dry season browner

    Avalanches may increase
    Avalanches may decrease – wet snow more though [?]

    Bird migrations longer
    Bird migrations shorter
    Bird migrations out of fashion

    Boreal forest fires may increase
    Boreal forest fires may continue decreasing

    Chinese locusts swarm when warmer
    Chinese locusts swarm when cooler

    Columbia spotted frogs decline
    Columbia spotted frogs thrive in warming world

    Coral island atolls to sink [?]
    Coral island atolls to rise [? – ?]

    Earth’s rotation to slow down
    Earth’s rotation to speed up

    East Africa to get less rain
    East Africa to get more rain – pdf

    Great Lakes less snow
    Great Lakes more snow

    Gulf stream slows down (and it causes warming)
    Gulf stream speeds up a little (and it also causes warming)

    Indian monsoons to be drier
    Indian monsoons to be wetter

    Indian rice yields to decrease – full paper
    Indian rice yields to increase

    Latin American forests may decline
    Latin American forests have thrived in warmer world with more co2!

    Leaf area index reduced [1990s]
    Leaf area index increased [1981-2006]

    Malaria may increase
    Malaria may continue decreasing

    Malaria in Burundi to increase
    Malaria in Burundi to decrease [?]

    North Atlantic cod to decline
    North Atlantic cod to thrive

    North Atlantic cyclone frequency to increase
    North Atlantic cyclone frequency to decrease – full pdf

    North Atlantic Ocean less salty
    North Atlantic Ocean more salty

    Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to decline [? – ? – ?]
    Northern Hemisphere ice sheets to grow [?]

    Plant methane emissions significant
    Plant methane emissions insignificant

    Plants move uphill
    Plants move downhill [?]

    Sahel to get less rain
    Sahel to get more rain
    Sahel may get more or less rain

    San Francisco less foggy
    San Francisco more foggy

    Sea level rise accelerated
    Sea level rise decelerated – full pdf

    Soil moisture less
    Soil moisture more

    Squids get smaller
    Squids get larger

    Stone age hunters may have triggered past warming
    Stone age hunters may have triggered past cooling

    Swiss mountain debris flow may increase
    Swiss mountain debris flow may decrease
    Swiss mountain debris flow may decrease then increase in volume

    UK may get more droughts
    UK may get more rain

    Wind speed to go up
    Wind speed slows down
    Wind speed to speed up then slow down

    Winters maybe warmer
    Winters maybe colder

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