The Contribution of Agriculture, Forestry and other Land Use activities to Global Warming, 1990-2012

Glob Chang Biol. 2015 Jul;21(7):2655-2660. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12865. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


We refine the information available through the IPCC AR5 with regard to recent trends in global GHG emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU), including global emission updates to 2012. Using all three available AFOLU datasets employed for analysis in the IPCC AR5, rather than just one as done in the IPCC AR5 WGIII Summary for Policy Makers, our analyses point to a down-revision of global AFOLU shares of total anthropogenic emissions, while providing important additional information on subsectoral trends. Our findings confirm that the share of AFOLU emissions to the anthropogenic total declined over time. They indicate a decadal average of 28.7 ± 1.5% in the 1990s and 23.6 ± 2.1% in the 2000s and an annual value of 21.2 ± 1.5% in 2010. The IPCC AR5 had indicated a 24% share in 2010. In contrast to previous decades, when emissions from land use (land use, land use change and forestry, including deforestation) were significantly larger than those from agriculture (crop and livestock production), in 2010 agriculture was the larger component, contributing 11.2 ± 0.4% of total GHG emissions, compared to 10.0 ± 1.2% of the land use sector. Deforestation was responsible for only 8% of total anthropogenic emissions in 2010, compared to 12% in the 1990s. Since 2010, the last year assessed by the IPCC AR5, new FAO estimates indicate that land use emissions have remained stable, at about 4.8 Gt CO2 eq yr-1 in 2012. Emissions minus removals have also remained stable, at 3.2 Gt CO2 eq yr-1 in 2012. By contrast, agriculture emissions have continued to grow, at roughly 1% annually, and remained larger than the land use sector, reaching 5.4 Gt CO2 eq yr-1 in 2012. These results are useful to further inform the current climate policy debate on land use, suggesting that more efforts and resources should be directed to further explore options for mitigation in agriculture, much in line with the large efforts devoted to REDD+ in the past decade.

Keywords: AFOLU; GHG; Agriculture; Climate Change; Emissions; Mitigation.