Showing results for: Methane
This editorial piece in Environmental Research Letters highlights the fact that, as opposed to CO2 emissions, those of the powerful greenhouse gas methane are currently rising faster than at any point in the last twenty years. Around two-thirds of global emissions of methane are attributable to anthropogenic activities, with agriculture and related land use change identified as a main culprit.
A chance discovery was made in Canada 11 years ago, when it was observed that cattle in a paddock near the sea are more productive. This led to research showing that feeding cows seaweed not only helped improve their health and growth, but also reduced their enteric methane emissions by about 20%.
Recent assessments have strongly suggested that meeting the widely agreed target of limiting global warming to less than 2°C will require the deployment of substantial carbon sinks in addition to measures to curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This perspective article examines the latest research and thinking on the ability of agricultural soil management to reduce GHG emissions and promote soils as carbon sinks, and the practical feasibility of implementing available soil management practices
119 countries pledged to reduce their GHG emissions in the 2015 Paris Agreement but exactly how much mitigation is needed by each sector to meet the 2-degree global target still largely unknown. This paper by Wollenberg et al., provides an estimate of how much GHG mitigation should be expected of the agricultural sector; compares this with what current plausible mitigation options could deliver – and finds a major discrepancy between the two.
This study is the first to look at the net balance of the three major (biogenic, non-fossil fuel) greenhouse gases; carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide - for every region of earth's land masses. It analyses emissions from land use and land use change and uptakes from land and forests and concludes that the terrestrial biosphere (land and forests) is a net emitter of these greenhouse gases.
A new genetic variety of rice has properties that ensure that the methane emissions that are normally released in production are substantially reduced. Biochemists in Sweden, China and the United States have worked together to create a new rice variety called SUSIBA2, which has now been dubbed the world’s first ‘climate-friendly rice’.
On October 28 2015 the European Parliament voted for binding targets on emissions of air pollutants with specific targets set for 2020, 2025 and 2030. The bill originally included ammonia and methane (CH4) among other air pollutants – but the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to exempt enteric methane emissions (emissions directly from farmed animals) from the bill. Setting targets for enteric methane was instead postponed to 2030, to give the agriculture sector time to adapt.
This paper estimates the total global emissions of methane and nitrous oxide related to livestock in 2010, from 237 countries. It estimates that methane and nitrous oxide from livestock contribute to 9 % of total GHG emissions. The authors analysed a period from 1961-2010 and noted a total increase of emissions from livestock of 51%. Compared to chicken or pork, the paper estimates that beef has a 10 times higher GHG impact.
The international research team behind this article calls for an increased climate policy focus on reducing ruminant meat consumption. They argue that climate negotiations thus far have paid too little attention to the role of livestock when discussing greenhouse gas mitigation. Methane from ruminants is the largest human-related source of the greenhouse gasses. As such, reducing ruminant populations is the most effective way to cut methane emissions and would also reduce CO2 emissions resulting from forest clearance for livestock farming. The livestock sector as a whole contributes around 14.5 % of all human-caused GHGs according to the latest FAO report) – a figure that includes overall GHG emissions, not just methane.
This paper, which looks at the impact of agricultural intensification on soils across Europe, suggests that differences in the intensity of land use significantly affects soil ecosystems and the services they provide. High intensity arable land use is found to a have lower diversity and biomass of soil organisms than lower intensity arable or permanent grassland, and that this affects the carbon and nitrogen cycles in the environment.
FCRN mailing list member Anna Flysjö has successfully defended her thesis. The thesis takes the form of a summary overview section and 6 papers (5 of them published journal papers). Details as follows:
The PhD project has focused on some of the most critical methodological aspects influencing GHG emission estimates of milk and dairy products and how the methodology can be improved. In addition, the CF for different types of dairy products has been analysed. Based on these results, mitigation options have been identified along the entire dairy value chain.
This study finds, unlike many LCAs, that the environmental (including GHG) impacts of the grass-based dairy farm are lower than for the farm where livestock are confined. The area of land required is also lower in the grass-based than in the confinement based farm.
This study finds that measures to tackle methane and black carbon emissions could reduce global warming by about 0.5°C by 2050. It would also lower the burden of premature deaths and increase crop yields.