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Local greenhouse gas estimates needed for local adaptation to climate change, say Kenya and Uganda



The images above are of a painting made in May 2015 by nine school children from a primary school in Nairobi’s Kangemi slum district. Over three days, the children illustrated a shipping container used for storage that sits outside ILRI’s Mazingira Centre (‘mazingira’ is the Kiswahili word for ‘environment’). This art project was dreamed up, organized and supervised by Krystina Micke (left in the bottom picture), a health and education specialist married to John Goopy, a scientist working in ILRI’s Mazingira Centre Research to establish greenhouse gas emission factors and to assess climate change mitigation strategies in African sheep and goat production systems (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

On 3–4 May 2016, policymakers from climate change departments of Kenya and Uganda met with scientists from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for discussions on development of regional greenhouse gas inventories.

For years developing countries such as Kenya and Uganda have had to rely on default emission factors provided by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Photo credit: CCAFS/V Atakos.

But a large discrepancy between these default emission factors and those of African cropping and livestock systems has been discovered by researchers at ILRI’s Mazingira Centre.

This means that projections of how much greenhouse gases are being emitted by African agriculture are likely inconsistent with their actual climate change impacts. Kenyan and Ugandan policymakers recently called for African country- and region-specific emission factors to be developed.

Policymakers and scientists in Kenya and Uganda have expressed the need for regional-specific measurements of greenhouse gas emissions to increase accuracy and certainty around climate change mitigation.


Photo credit: CCAFS/V Atakos.

‘The call was made during a consultative workshop for policymakers from ministries of environment and natural resources in Kenya and Uganda with scientists from CGIAR’s research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

The workshop was held at the Kenya-headquartered International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) early this month (2–3 May 2016).


Photo credit: CCAFS/V Atakos.

‘Delegates also toured ILRI’s Mazingira Centre laboratory that facilitates measurements of emissions from livestock, smallholder farms, forests and tea plantations. . . .

‘David Pelster, a research scientist at ILRI, Kenya, adds that there are opportunities for improved production of animals on healthy grasslands in East Africa that can help reduce emissions.

‘“We need proper mitigation strategies to realise long-lasting solutions,” Pelster tells SciDev.Net.

The challenges to East African countries collecting their own data on greenhouse gases are low funding for research and inadequately trained personnel.
David Pelster, ILRI scientist, Kenya

‘Delegates at the workshop participated in in-depth discussions on greenhouse gas inventory activities, agricultural and land use emissions related factors and the social dimensions of mitigating emissions.

‘Researchers in Kenya and Uganda expressed concern that the current estimates used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for emission factors such as methane could be inaccurate.

For example, Pelster noted that the IPCC’s predicted greenhouse gas emissions can be about ten times higher than actual emissions.

‘The workshop heard that simple technologies and strategies such as better management of manure, and improved production where smallholder farmers get more from a few animals should be enhanced to reduce emissions.


Photo credit: CCAFS/V Atakos.

Iain Wright, the deputy director-general of integrated sciences at ILRI, explains that interaction between research and policy is critical to addressing climate change.

‘Wright calls for increased engagements among scientists, smallholder farmers and policymakers to formulate policies that will help address the challenges of climate change.’

Read the whole article at SciDevNet: Experts call for local greenhouse gas emissions data, 24 May 2016.
Read more about this project:
> On the ILRI Livestock Systems and Environment blog:
How about synergies in estimating greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture? Kenya and Uganda policy makers engage ILRI researchers, 13 May 2016.

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