Science-based greenhouse gas emission targets for agriculture and forestry

02-02-2017 | Publication

To limit global warming to well below 2 °C, as agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement, climate actions by the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land-Use (AFOLU) sector are crucial. The greenhouse gas emissions from the AFOLU sector represent approximately a quarter of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (10 to 12 GtCO2eq, per year) and need to be halved by 2050. At the same time, agricultural production is expected to double. To meet this challenge, companies need to act fast, and require guidance set their greenhouse gas emission reduction in accordance with climate science.

Funded by the KR Foundation, the University of Aberdeen, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Ecofys, together, developed an additional methodology based on the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach (SDA), looking at the AFOLU sector’s main products and developing CO2 and non-CO2 emission intensity pathways towards 2050.

Based on their share of greenhouse gas emissions and the global volumes traded, 9 products were selected: 1) beef, 2) dairy, 3) poultry and eggs, 4) pork-meat, 4) rice, 5) maize, 6) wheat, 7) palm oil, 8) soya beans and 9) roundwood. In total, these products represent over 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions from the AFOLU sector

The analysis of the greenhouse gas emissions related to these products has used a cradle-to-farm gate approach, both with and without CO2 emissions from land-use change

In the analysis, the possible abatement for each product has been based on a comprehensive analysis of the literature regarding measures to mitigate the agricultural emissions. The updated information on abatement options and costs were input into the IMAGE model, which was then used to simulate a mitigation scenario across 26 regions, consistent with keeping global warming well below 2 °C. Calculations in this project were based on the so-called Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP2) scenario. For CO2 emissions from land-use change, the analysis has used several methods to allocate emissions to different products.