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Yet more evidence that agriculture–particularly livestock agriculture–needs to be part of climate discussions

The farmyard, by Marc Chagall, 1954 (via Wikipaintings).

Without big interventions, the future of food security looks bleak.

So says an article in One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World Website.

The clear message from . . . the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report is the urgent need for farmers to adapt to a changing climate and for all countries to seriously engage in mitigating climate change.

‘Within agriculture, enteric fermentation (methane from livestock) accounts for the largest proportion of emissions (39%) and increased 11% between 2001 and 2010 . . . .

‘With crop yields expected to decline (and already declining in many countries) and agricultural emissions appearing to be on an upwards trajectory, the former perhaps incentivising the latter, we need smarter agriculture, that is resilient to future climate change while also reducing GHG emissions, the very goal of sustainable intensification.

‘A recent paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, discusses how climate mitigation policies can reduce emissions from the livestock sector. Authors identify much potential to mitigate climate change in livestock production systems, namely the transition from extensive to more productive systems, reducing the livestock sector’s impact on land use change. The paper also recommends emissions reductions should be targeted to the supply (rather than demand) side. Aside from this rather controversial recommendation, this paper, as with many others, identifies significant opportunities to mitigate climate change and increase food supply within the agricultural sector. Serious action on implementing the variety of adaptation and mitigation strategies at the global and local level appears to be the limiting factor in progress.’

Read the whole article in One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World Website: Declining crop yields and increasing agricultural emissions, 11 Apr 2014.

Read the full paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions, by Petr Havlík (ILRI and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [IIASA], Hugo Valin (IIASA), Mario Herrero (ILRI, now at CSIRO), Michael Obersteiner (IIASA), Erwin Schmid (Institute for Sustainable Economic Development, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria), Mariana Rufino (ILRI), Aline Mosnier (IIASA), Philip Thornton (ILRI and CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security), Hannes Böttcher (IIASA), Richard Conant (ILRI and Colorado State University at Fort Collins), Stefan Frank (IIASA), Steffen Fritz (IIASA), Sabine Fuss (IIASA), Florian Kraxner (IIASA), and An Notenbaert (ILRI), Feb 2014.

Read other articles about this paper in the ILRI Clippings Blog
Research shows vast differences in livestock systems, diets and emissions–FCRN on PNAS paper, 12 Apr 2014
What livestock eat (and don’t eat) determines how productive, and efficient, they are–PNAS study, 15 Mar 2014
Future of (sustainable) livestock production: Efficient, but measured–Time Magazine on major new ILRI study, 17 Dec 2013

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