Lena Höglund-Isaksson, Senior Research Scholar at IIASA said the IASSA GAINS analysis looked at different farming types to see where the biggest potential for reductions are. They found that one-third of livestock emissions comes from big industrial scale farms, one-third from small-scale farmers and herders in Africa and South East Asia who focus on cattle and dairy, and one-third from other breeders. The biggest potential using technical measures was in the industrial scale farms, which could reduce emissions by 30%. Small-scale farmers provided very limited technical potential. For the last third potential measures include intensification – or increased production intensity per animal or extensification – introducing other environmental targets like ammonia emissions, biodiversity loss, reduced deforestation, etc. which wold mean accepting higher prices for animal protein.
Henning Steinfeld, Chief of Livestock Information in the Sector Analysis and Policy Branch of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the fragmented nature of the agriculture sector must be recognized. The FAO has focused mainly on increasing productivity and intensity, as this is the main entry point to reduce methane in the livestock sector. Another good area to reduce methane is by covering manure lagoons and funnelling the methane they produce for other purposes, like energy production. He also noted that there are other benefits from livestock that aren’t captured in simple input output calculations. He noted that in places like Africa livestock is kept as a means of asset and capital accumulation, leading to lower productivity. Alternatives to using cattle for capital must be found to reduce emissions in these areas.
Jeroen Dijkman, Deputy Director, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, talked about their work with the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and the CCAC, which aims to build capacity in low- and middle-income countries to build capacity to include livestock targets in their NDCs and identifying different mitigation scenarios. A challenge is that there isn’t capacity in the sector which makes it very difficult to start to address these issues.
Dong Hongmin from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Scientists said that while there were many programs in China to improve agriculture and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the implementation of these technologies tends to be economically invisible. This provides no incentive for local governments and farmers to implement behavioural changes. Also, many farmers are small holders, so solutions need to be cheap and not create additional labour demands. An additional barrier to action is that many countries haven’t included agricultural emissions in their NDCs and don’t have quantified emissions reduction targets making it hard to set and achieve targets.
While there are many challenges the CCAC sees much potential for increased methane reductions by 2030 through the implementation of measures compatible with alleviating both hunger and poverty. Ensuring NDC targets for agriculture can help foster sustainable farming practices and ensure food security. They can also help build resilience for small scale and vulnerable farmers and help achieve climate and sustainable development goals.
Reducing methane from waste.
Methane emissions from the waste sector in 2010 accounted 57 Mt of methane, or approximately 18% of total anthropogenic emissions. This is expected to increase to 78 Mt by 2030 under a business as usual scenario. To achieve the IPCC’s 1.5˚C scenario, methane emissions from this sector need to decrease by 65% by 2030 compared to 2010 levels.
There is high potential to achieve the target in this sector. The maximum technical feasible mitigation potential could achieve a 64% reduction in methane by 2030. The largest reductions coming from the municipal solid waste (31 Mt) and wastewater (16 Mt) sectors.