New PNAS meta-analysis: Promising strategies to reduce enteric methane identified
“Full adoption of the most effective strategies to mitigate methane emissions by ruminants can help meet the 1.5 °C target by 2030 but not 2050”
Significance: Agricultural methane emissions must be decreased by 11 to 30% of the 2010 level by 2030 and by 24 to 47% by 2050 to meet the 1.5 °C target. We identified three strategies to decrease product-based methane emissions while increasing animal productivity and five strategies to decrease absolute methane emissions without reducing animal productivity. Globally, 100% adoption of the most effective product-based and absolute methane emission mitigation strategy can meet the 1.5 °C target by 2030 but not 2050, because mitigation effects are offset by projected increases in methane. On a regional level, Europe but not Africa may be able to meet their contribution to the 1.5 °C target, highlighting the different challenges faced by high- and middle- and low-income countries.
Abstract: To meet the 1.5 °C target, methane (CH4) from ruminants must be reduced by 11 to 30% by 2030 and 24 to 47% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels. A meta-analysis identified strategies to decrease product-based (PB; CH4 per unit meat or milk) and absolute (ABS) enteric CH4 emissions while maintaining or increasing animal productivity (AP; weight gain or milk yield). Next, the potential of different adoption rates of one PB or one ABS strategy to contribute to the 1.5 °C target was estimated. The database included findings from 430 peer-reviewed studies, which reported 98 mitigation strategies that can be classified into three categories: animal and feed management, diet formulation, and rumen manipulation. A random-effects meta-analysis weighted by inverse variance was carried out. Three PB strategies—namely, increasing feeding level, decreasing grass maturity, and decreasing dietary forage-to-concentrate ratio—decreased CH4 per unit meat or milk by on average 12% and increased AP by a median of 17%. Five ABS strategies—namely CH4 inhibitors, tanniferous forages, electron sinks, oils and fats, and oilseeds—decreased daily methane by on average 21%. Globally, only 100% adoption of the most effective PB and ABS strategies can meet the 1.5 °C target by 2030 but not 2050, because mitigation effects are offset by projected increases in CH4 due to increasing milk and meat demand. Notably, by 2030 and 2050, low- and middle-income countries may not meet their contribution to the 1.5 °C target for this same reason, whereas high-income countries could meet their contributions due to only a minor projected increase in enteric CH4 emissions.
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