COP15 and agriculture
Agriculture emits considerable amounts of the greenhouse gases methane and laughing gas. In addition, changes in the soil’s carbon storage in connection with cultivating the soil can contribute to either emissions or storage of CO2
Agricultural emissions are included in the Kyoto Protocol calculations of each country’s total emissions. Agriculture therefore has a major role to play when countries have to meet their reduction commitments.
At the COP 15 climate summit in Copenhagen, agriculture will be discussed in line with other sectors that need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, it will also be discussed as a sector in which adaptation to climate change will be of great significance.
Emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture represent about 14% of total global CO2 emissions – and the proportion is increasing. Land use change adds another 17%, e.g. deforestation.
Agriculture faces major challenges:
- Emissions from agriculture represent a substantial proportion of total global emissions.
- Agriculture has great potential for reducing emissions, storing larger amounts of CO2 and converting manure slurry into green energy.
- More food will be needed for a growing population, but it has to be produced without exacerbating climate change.
- Large areas of the Earth's surface are covered by agricultural land – particularly in developing countries, where climate change is expected to have a major impact on production.
The EU sets targets for 2020
The Kyoto Protocol does not dictate how countries should cut their emissions of greenhouse gases. However, the EU specifies where cuts need to be made in order to reach the targets set for 2020, and does so by imposing a ceiling on emissions in the sector covered by the emissions trading scheme (ETS) and the sector not covered by the emissions trading scheme (non-ETS).
According to the latest EU climate and energy package from 2008, the agriculture sector, like transport and private households, is not covered by the ETS, but is still expected to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
A number of studies have shown that a proportion of the reductions necessary by 2020 potentially could be made within agriculture and forestry (e.g. through reduced deforestation).
Agriculture could therefore be required to meet specific reduction targets in the near future.
Adaptation to climate change will also be a major challenge for agriculture, particularly in the developing countries.
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change