“Challenges and opportunities for mitigation in the agricultural sector”

Technical paper, UNITED NATIONS, FCCC/TP/2008/8 21 November 2008

http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2008/tp/08.pdf

A technical document prepared for the Bonn meeting in April presents these facts (which are now recognised by the UNFCCC):

1. The global technical mitigation potential* of agriculture, excluding fossil fuel offsets from biomass, by 2030 is estimated to be 5.5″6 Gt CO2 eq per year. About 89 per cent of this potential can be achieved by soil carbon (C) sequestration through cropland management, grazing land management, restoration of organic soils and degraded lands, bioenergy and water management. Mitigation of CH4 can provide an additional 9 per cent through improvements in rice management, and in livestock and manure management. The remaining 2 per cent can be achieved from mitigation of N2O emissions from soils mainly through crop management.

2. The economic potential** in 2030 is estimated to be: 1.5″1.6 Gt CO2 eq per year (C price: USD 20t CO2 eq); 2.5″2.7 Gt CO2 eq per year (C price USD 50 per t CO2 eq); and 4″4.3 Gt CO2 eq per year (C price: USD 100 t CO2 eq). About 30 per cent of this potential can be achieved in developed countries and 70 per cent in developing countries.

* Technical potential is the amount by which it is possible to reduce GHG emissions or improve energy efficiency by implementing a technology or practice that has been demonstrated already. No explicit reference to costs is made but adopting “˜practical constraints”™ may take into account implicit economic considerations (IPCC AR4).

** Economic potential is in most studies used as the amount of GHG mitigation that is cost-effective for a given carbon price, based on social cost pricing and discount rates, including energy savings, but without most externalities. Theoretically, it is defined as the potential for cost-effective GHG mitigation when non-market social costs and benefits are included with market costs and benefits in assessing the options for particular levels of carbon prices (as affected by mitigation policies) and when using social discount rates instead of private ones. This includes externalities (i.e. non-market costs and benefits such as environmental co-benefits) (IPCC AR4).

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