Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture: A Manual to Address Data Requirements for Developing Countries
Countries report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals from all sectors via national GHG Inventories, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with international climate policy agreements and technical guidelines developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The agriculture sector represents a unique challenge for national inventory compilers, especially in developing countries, due to significant difficulties in compiling and regularly updating national statistics for agriculture, forestry, and land use —the first necessary step in preparing national GHG estimates.
The limited capacity to identify and collect reliable activity data and to quantify emissions by sources and removals by sinks, including in countries where agriculture and land use activities are a key component of the national economy and a driver of employment, could furthermore lead to limited access to international climate finance of importance to rural development, such as for instance REDD+ activities and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).
FAO supports its Member Countries with data, guidelines and technical expertise towards an enhanced global knowledge base on GHG emissions and mitigation potentials. The Monitoring and Assessment of GHG Emissions and Mitigation Potentials in Agriculture – MAGHG Project of the Climate, Energy and Land Tenure Division’s Mitigation Programme (MICCA), in close collaboration with the FAO Statistics Division and the FAO Forestry Division UN-REDD Programme, has developed and made available relevant activity data, GHG emission estimates databases and analysis tools through
the FAOSTAT database. These products are used in regional and country-level capacity development activities that support practitioners in assessing and reporting GHG emissions from agriculture and land use categories, with a view to strengthening their national processes, with a focus on preparation and submission of GHG Inventories, Biennial Update Reports (BURs) and NAMAs.
This Manual provides Member Countries with a tool and methodology to help identify, build and access the minimum set of activity data needed for GHG estimation. Required data is largely drawn from country’s official national agricultural and forestry statistics, as disseminated in FAO’s corporate database FAOSTAT, and integrated by geospatial data obtained from recognized international sources. Users are provided with step-by-step guidance on how to use this minimum set to build a default, yet complete national GHG emission dataset for agriculture and land use, which follows the default, Tier 1 approach of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Guidelines on National GHG Inventories.
This Manual, therefore, contributes to FAO and the Global Strategy support to national processes towards improved agricultural and rural statistics. It can be used as a guide by staff of national statistical offices, environmental ministries and other relevant national agencies, to understand the international context of international climate policy (Ch. 2) and international guidelines (Ch. 3), identify needs for improved agricultural and rural data as well as emission estimates towards improving GHG Inventories (Ch. 4), while supplying practical information and examples based on accessing and using the FAOSTAT Emissions database for agriculture and land use (Ch. 5).
Improving statistical processes for GHG estimation has wider implications beyond climate change mitigation. Improved statistics on agricultural and land use activities enable Member Countries better identify climate responses that are consistent with their rural development and food security objectives, including preserving natural resources, increasing resilience of production systems and creating new employment opportunities.