UNFCCC Toolkit: Raising Key Issues 1.2

UNFCCC toolkit page
Factsheet: Message 2

Message 2: “A 2015 agreement should acknowledge the importance of agriculture for food security and livelihoods and the role it can play to help meet global adaptation and mitigation goals. Agriculture should not be excluded from the commitments made by countries. 

The second of nine factsheets containing data and facts extracted from the sources below and others, then mapped to the nine key messages or topics of this guide/toolkit. Data will be related to UNFCCC negotiations, food security and nutrition, small vs large scale farmers, as well as specific topics such as:

  • The benefits of adapting to, and mitigating the effects of, climate change;
  • Key statistics on the impact agriculture has on climate change;
  • Impacts of climate change on agriculture;
  • Adaptation-mitigation co-benefits;
  • What is the SBSTA work programme?

Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) plays a central role for food security and sustainable development. The sector’s mitigation potential is derived from both an enhancement of removals of greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as reduction of emissions through management of land and livestock.

Opportunities for mitigation include supply-side and demand-side options:

  • Supply side: forestry, land-based agriculture, livestock, integrated systems and bioenergy
  • Demand side: reduced losses in the food supply chain, changes in human diets and in demand for wood and forestry products

The nature of the sector means that there are potentially many barriers to implementation of available mitigation options, including accessibility to AFOLU financing, poverty, institutional, ecological, technological development, diffusion and transfer barriers.

There is significant mitigation potential from agriculture, forestry, and bioenergy mitigation measures, e.g.:

  • Reductions in CH4 or N2O emissions from croplands, grazing lands, and livestock.
  • Conservation of existing carbon stocks and soil carbon that would otherwise be lost.
  • Enhancement of carbon sequestration

Changing land-use practices, technological advancements and varietal improvements have enabled world grain harvests to double from 1.2 to 2.5 billion tonnes per year between 1970 and 2010.

Adaptation options for agriculture include technological responses, enhancing smallholder access to credit and other critical production resources, strengthening institutions at local to regional levels, and improving market access through trade reform.

Responses to decreased food production and quality include developing new crop varieties adapted to changes in CO2, temperature, and drought; enhancing the capacity for climate risk management; and offsetting economic impacts of land-use change. Improving financial support and investing in the production of small-scale farms can also provide benefits. Expanding agricultural markets and improving the predictability and reliability of the world trading system could result in reduced market volatility and help manage food supply shortages caused by climate change.

In agriculture, the most cost-effective mitigation options are cropland management, grazing land management and restoration of organic soils. Source: IPCC

Using income-dependent dietary choices, it is estimated that global demand for crop calories will increase by 100% ± 11% and global demand for crop protein will increase by 110%±7% from 2005 to 2050. Source: Big Facts
Deforestation and land-use change accounts for 2,200–6,600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year, or 30–50% of agricultural emissions and about 4–14% of global emissions. Agriculture makes the greatest contribution to total food system emissions—7,300–12,700 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year, equivalent to 80–86% of food systems emissions and 14–24% of total global emissions. Source: Big Facts
One reason why agricultural growth is likely to generate income for the poor is that in many countries where poverty is high, poor people are often concentrated in rural areas, and agricultural growth more directly affects the rural economy than other types of growth do. Source: FAO
The role of agriculture in driving overall economic growth is generally more important in poorer countries where it accounts for more than 30% of economic activity, and in the least-developed countries as a group, it accounts for 27 % of GDP (2009 figures). By contrast, in OECD economies, agriculture accounts for less than 1.5 % of overall economic output. Source: FAO
In the least developed countries, agriculture typically accounts for 50% of GDP and over 80% of the labour force (2010).Source: Montpellier Panel (PDF)