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March 5, 2021   •   News

Alissa Benchimol

The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI) is working with the Government of Fiji in implementing an Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT) project. ICAT works with countries to provide guidance, capacity building, and knowledge to facilitate a common transparency framework in the assessment of policies and climate actions. The initiative offers a suite of resources and guides that are especially relevant to countries developing and implementing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). GHGMI has been an implementing partner for ICAT since 2020 and currently provides technical support to seven countries, including Fiji.

The Fiji ICAT project is focused on strengthening institutional monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) capacity for estimating agriculture sector GHG emissions and assessing GHG and sustainable development impacts of agriculture sector policies – the country’s second-largest source of emissions (excluding LULUCF). According to Fiji’s Third National Communications (NC3), agriculture emissions account for 21% of Fiji’s inventory (total of 551 Gg of CO2e) with methane emissions accounting for the largest majority (405 Gg of CO2e; 78% from enteric fermentation, 20% from manure management, 2% rice cultivation)[1].

Working with Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Economy, the main goals of the 14-month project are to:

  1. develop the blueprint for an MRV system for the agriculture sector by focusing on emissions from enteric fermentation, manure management, and rice cultivation.
  2. build capacity of national experts to calculate emissions from livestock and rice cultivation using the 2006 IPCC methodology.
  3. apply ICAT tools for policy impact assessment in the agriculture sector.
  4. develop recommendations for including agriculture sector policies in future NDC updates.

The ICAT project supports Fiji in two main ways. First, it provides funding to hire national experts who will carry out the goals of the project. Second, ICAT implementing partner GHGMI provides technical support to the Government of Fiji and national experts on the delivery of project outputs. This approach recognizes the need and opportunity to develop national expertise for agriculture sector MRV with guided support by leading international experts in the field of agriculture sector GHG accounting. To this end, GHGMI and New Zealand and Australian experts from GRA, are developing a series of hands-on trainings to guide Fiji’s national experts in developing: (a) an instruction manual for the calculation of GHG emissions from livestock and rice cultivation in Fiji; (b) a report on estimated GHG and sustainable development impacts of two agriculture sector policies; and (c) a national systems guidelines manual for the agriculture sector. 

The guided training series will develop national experts’ theoretical and practical skills in data processing, national MRV systems, and on fundamental application of the 2006 IPCC guidelines – enabling Fiji to maintain their own agriculture GHG inventory and MRV system in the future. The hands-on trainings will be focused on the estimation of emissions from agriculture key sources (livestock and rice cultivation) using best available data, understanding and applying ICAT guides for assessing GHG and sustainable development impacts of agriculture policies, and developing institutional arrangements, national reporting system design, and Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) plans for the agriculture sector in Fiji. The ICAT impact assessment guides are a series of methodologies and frameworks for assessing the GHG, sustainable development, and transformational change impact of policies. Additionally, by strengthening Fiji’s agriculture MRV and policy assessment capacity, the project aims at identifying ways in which the sector can be included in future NDCs. It will also support the agriculture sector reporting for the next national GHG inventory within Fiji’s First Biennial Report and the Fourth National Communication, and build a solid platform for reporting the agriculture sector under the Paris Agreement.

The project was officially launched at its Inception Workshop in January of 2021 with key stakeholders introducing the project and creating awareness on MRV and GHG Inventory as an important tool in driving policy action for the sector. The topics covered include expectations and project needs for setting up agriculture MRV and conducting policy assessment. A survey of workshop participants indicates the experience improved stakeholders’ understanding of these topics (Figure 1).

Figure 1 Self-reported level of knowledge before (left) and after (right) the inception workshop.

[1] Data collected from Fiji’s Third National Communication (year 2011). Percentages were approximated.

March 3, 2021   •   News

The Department of Agroecology are now accepting applications for three job opportunities, at AU Foulum in Denmark. These roles will start on the first of July. Two of the positions are three-year post doc, with the other being a tenure track position. A brief summary of each position can be found below, with further information linked for each.

Applications close on the 31st of March for all three positions. Follow the hyperlinks in each job title to find out more.

Tenure track position in Grassland based livestock production systems 

You will take the lead of research aiming of integration of grassland in conventional and organic farming system, including both livestock and the emerging green biomass industry, in agriculture system based on  arable crops and grassland in rotation. The research area includes both grassland production and  management as well as grassland in the agricultural system in relation to production, environmental and  economic dimensions of agriculture and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions based on modelling and  experimental work, depending on your profile. Contact: Troels Kristensen ([email protected])

Postdocs in Livestock farming systems for an integrated, resilient and efficient agriculture

You will be an important part of our team working within model development and farming system analysis,  especially livestock based systems, including productivity and the environmental impacts along the whole  production chain. Experience or interest in on-farm research, system development and modelling based on  farm data is part of your profile, as well as good analytical skills in combination with a broad knowledge  about agriculture, especially livestock based.  Contact: Troels Kristensen ([email protected])

Postdocs in Life Cycle Assessment of Food and Agricultural Systems 

The successful candidates will be part of our LCA team to carry out research in this area to improve  sustainability of food and farming systems in a local and global context. In particular, we work on  documentation of effects and development of models and methods within this area, as well as identification  of promising solutions and new production systems.  

Contact: Marie Trydeman Knudsen ([email protected]) or  Lisbeth Mogensen ([email protected])

March 3, 2021   •   News

The December 2020 issue of the CRG Newsletter is now available!

This issue includes:

  • Cropland Research Group GRA Co-Chairs message
  • Integrated silvopastoral systems towards a sustainable management
  • Climate and environmental change in the Mediterranean basin: current situation and risks for the future
  • Pilot study in citrus on the soil and plant improvement from enriched pruning remains to reduce the greenhouse effect (PODA-VAL)
  • Agroecology for Europe (AE4EU)
  • Special issue on climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation in croplands
  • Upcoming events

The full newsletter is linked below:

February 22, 2021   •   News

Ackim Mwape, PhD

The key role that livestock activity data plays in the development and application of national GHG inventories has been widely recognised and discussed. In order to design and implement Tier 2 MRV methods, appropriate data on the characteristics and performance of different sub-categories of livestock is needed.

Unfortunately, such data are not always available, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where it remains a challenge to collect data, and move countries towards having detailed (at least Tier 2) baselines for livestock emissions estimates to support their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Recognising that the level of availability of livestock sector activity data is currently unknown in most sub-Saharan African countries, New Zealand, through the GRA and in collaboration with regional and international partners, supported the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and University of Pretoria to survey and analyse the availability of activity data (cattle populations) and data required for emission factors (animal performance data).

Livestock sector activity data were collated and collected from 37 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. The data collection exercise, undertaken in 2020, aimed to increase understanding of the currently available and collected in-country livestock activity data for Tier 2 estimates of livestock emissions. 

“The data collection exercise is an important first step in helping African countries improve estimates of national livestock emissions and mitigation at Tier 2 levels and decision-support for achieving NDCs and tracking NDC performance in the livestock sector”, says Hayden Montgomery, GRA Special Representative.

The results of the data collection and analysis suggest high potential to pilot a regional inventory development approach, particularly in southern Africa. For the majority countries, data availability will still be a challenge, and collecting all the missing data may not be feasible in the short run.

A temporary solution could be to systematically group countries with similar production systems, and informed by data where available, develop a regional template for livestock GHG inventories, which can be adapted to national conditions, validated, and adopted by stakeholders in each country. This could support countries to move from Tier 1 MRV methods to Tier 2 methods which are better able to reflect actual production conditions and their impact on GHG emissions.

February 22, 2021   •   News

This first round of RUFORUM awards has been announced and will support participatory action research and training on topics related to the measurement and management of greenhouse gas emissions and removals in pastoral and agro-pastoral ruminant livestock farming systems in Africa.

Eight award recipients from universities in Benin, DR Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda were announced in November 2020. These awardees are currently working on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research projects, specifically on soil organic carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions, manure management, livestock fodder value chains and feed balances, modelling of grassland biome, and quantification of above ground and ground biomass.

Each award will support a Principal Investigator (an individual senior lecturer of a RUFORUM member university) and training of at least two Master of Science students (one of whom should be a female) for two years.

Supporting the development of capability in African universities will be crucial to support Africa to respond to the goals established by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as national and regional priorities of African States.

“Addressing the global challenges of climate change and food security through science, technology and innovation as aspired in the African Union Agenda 2063 requires achieving a critical mass of well-educated citizens with requisite skills to revolutionise production and delivery of goods and services”. Prof Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary

These were the words of Prof Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary, during the launch of the GRA-RUFORUM Graduate Research Grants aimed at providing opportunity for quality research on topical issues while training the next generation of scientists for Africa.

As part of their contribution to addressing the global challenges of climate change, the Governments of New Zealand and the Netherlands have funded eight GRA-Graduate Research Grants through a Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) awards programme.

RUFORUM is a consortium of 129 Universities in 38 African countries with the mission to strengthen the capacities of universities to foster innovations responsive to the demands of small-holder farmers (www.ruforum.org).

For the long-term advancement of the GRA-RUFORM awards programme, it is hoped and indeed necessary that more GRA partner institutions and countries join the Government’s of New Zealand, the Netherlands and RUFORUM to support participatory action research and training in Africa.

For more information on this programme, please contact Dr. Ackim Mwape via email [email protected] or [email protected]

February 22, 2021   •   News

Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia and Senegal have communicated agriculture sector specific mitigation measures in their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC’s). All five countries have unconditional economy wide emission reduction targets of 29% – 54% in 2030 relative to their BAU (or 2010 base year emissions for Zambia).

Including agriculture specific mitigation measures in the NDC is especially significant given agriculture emissions are key drivers of emissions across the five African countries, albeit responsible for variable proportions of the total emission profile. Implementing these mitigation measures will face different barriers in each country but communicating the intention to mitigate agriculture emissions is the first step.

Key points from each country’s enhanced NDC as they relate to agriculture emissions are summarised here.

Kenya

  • Kenya’s enhanced NDC communicates an economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 of at least 32%. 
  • Key policies for agriculture emission reductions include the National Livestock Policy 2015, the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) (2019 – 2029), the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (2017 – 2028) among others.
  • Mitigation measures for Agriculture Sector emissions will be achieved by Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in line with Kenya’s CSA Strategy, “with emphasis to efficient livestock management systems”.
  • Kenya’s adaptation measures include using CSA practices to increase livestock system efficiencies and to build resilience of agriculture systems through sustainable land management.

Ethiopia

  • The BAU analysis is based on a newly adopted Tier 2 inventory for livestock GHG emissions and livestock are projected to be the biggest single emission source in 2030 in the BAU scenario
  • Ethiopia’s economy wide emissions reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 12.4% unconditional and a further 41.1% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 53.5%.
  • Of the total livestock emission reductions will contribute 30.4 MtCO2e or 13.8% of the total 220.59 MtCO2e required by 2030 across all sectors.
  • Mitigation measures will be achieved predominantly as improvements to agriculture production efficiencies and changes to agricultural practices.

Rwanda

Figure 1: Rwanda’s economy wide mitigation contributions in 2030.

  • Rwanda’s economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 16% unconditional (1.9 MtCO2e) and a further 22% (2.7 MtCO2e) conditional on international support, to a combined total of 38% as shown in figure 1.
  • Agriculture contributes 55% of Rwanda’s total emissions. The largest sources of emissions are methane from enteric fermentation in cattle systems, N2O emissions from managed soils and emissions from manure management.
  • Rwanda’s agriculture mitigation measures will contribute 2.24 MtCO2e (figure 1) in 2030 and include a number of soil conservation practices, compost production and livestock measures.
  • Adaptation measures for agriculture include developing and promoting climate resilient crops and livestock, adopting best crop management practices and developing sustainable land use management practices.
  • Rwanda’s NDC is aligned with several existing national policies including the Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy (GGCRS) (2011).

Figure 2: Rwanda’s agriculture mitigation strategies as a percentage of the total mitigation potential of the agriculture sector. 

Zambia

  • Zambia’s economy wide emissions reduction target relative to 2010 emission levels is 25% unconditional (20 MtCO2e) and a further 22% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 47% (38 MtCO2e) in 2030.
  • Zambia’s major mitigation measures for agriculture are i) conservation and sustainable agriculture and ii) improving agriculture production efficiencies.

Senegal

  • Senegal’s economy wide emission reduction target relative to BAU in 2030 is 7% unconditional and a further 22% conditional on international support to a total reduction of 29%. This equates to unconditional emission reductions of 2.66 MtCO2e and a total of 11.2 MtCO2e in the conditional target.
  • Agriculture emissions accounted for about 44% of Senegal’s total emissions in 2010.
  • The emission reduction targets for agriculture are 0.25 MtCO2e in the unconditional and 1.27 MtCO2e in the conditional scenario.
  • Agriculture mitigation measures are aligned with the Program to Relaunch and Accelerate the Cadence of Senegalese Agriculture (PRACAS2, 2019-2023) and the Livestock Development Policy (2017-2021)
  • Mitigation measures include assisted natural regeneration, composting, biogas and implementing the system of rice intensification (SRI)
  • Several adaptation measures are listed, including sustainable land management, agroforestry and use of early warning systems and climate information services.

Country NDC’s:

Kenya: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Kenya%20First/Kenya’s%20First%20%20NDC%20(updated%20version).pdf 

Ethiopia: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Ethiopia%20First/Ethiopia’s%20NDC%20update%20summary%202020.pdf 

Rwanda: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Rwanda%20First/Rwanda_Updated_NDC_May_2020.pdf 

Zambia: https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Zambia%20First/Zambia_Provisional_Updated_NDC_2020.pdf 

Senegal (in French): https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Senegal%20First/CDNSenegal%20approuv%C3%A9e-pdf-.pdf  

February 18, 2021   •   News

A podcast centring around food systems and the various questions surrounding them is set to be released soon. Aptly titled Feed, the podcast will look at critical food systems issues, and aim to start a conversation about how we understand and engage with food systems. Feed is run by a collaboration between the University of Oxford, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and Wagenigen University,

For further information and to listen to a teaser episode, click the button below:

February 18, 2021   •   News

Figure: Long-term experiment of conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe. A change in soil tillage and soil cover impacts SOC, GHGs, but also albedo. © Rémi Cardinael.

On 3-4 December 2020, the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) and the CLAND Convergence Institute organized, with the support of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) and the 4 per Thousand Initiative, a virtual workshop entitled “Can albedo change offset the climate benefit of carbon sequestrating practices?“. The overall objective was to discuss the relevance of current carbon-centered accounting systems to assess climate change mitigation potentials of land use change and management.

This workshop gathered twelve top keynote speakers to provide the most up-to-date knowledge about the potential offset or enhancement of the climate benefit of carbon sequestrating practices, identify knowledge gaps and propose a way forward for future research projects.

This virtual event gathered more than 300 participants, from 52 countries and 156 different institutes. Most of the participants (89%) were from universities and research centers, 60% were from Europe, 17% from Asia, and 14% from North America.

All presentations were recorded and available in replay here:

http://albedocc.lsce.ipsl.fr/index.php/presentations

The climate benefit of best management practices is often quantified through the change in biochemical effects, i.e., soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks and greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions. However, biochemical effects do not stand alone. Planting trees, covering the soil, reducing tillage, adding organic amendments (compost, biochar…), etc, also modify biophysical effects, for example, albedo.

Surface albedo is the fraction of incident solar radiation that is reflected back to the atmosphere, measured on a scale from 0 (100% absorption, 0% reflection) to 1 (0% absorption, 100% reflection). A modification in surface albedo affects top-of-atmosphere albedo and thus the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth.

It is now well documented that afforestation of boreal regions would have no climate benefit given the negative radiative forcing due to reduced atmospheric CO2 concentration by carbon sequestration in trees and soils (biochemical effect) is offset by decreased surface albedo (biophysical effect) leading to warming and a positive radiative forcing.

However, comparing biochemical and biophysical effects is not straightforward. There are differences in the spatial extent of the two forcings. CO2 is well-mixed in Earth’s atmosphere thus imposing a spatially homogeneous forcing while a change in surface albedo is more localized.

A lot of progress has been made to compare these effects, but metrics still need to be improved. The first day of the workshop was mainly focused on methodological aspects related to quantifying and comparing these effects, as well as on techniques to measure albedo from field studies to remote sensing. During the second day, keynote speakers presented different studies comparing biochemical and biophysical effects for different practices such as cover crops, chlorophyll-deficient crops, biochar, bioenergy crops and forest management.

It was concluded that biophysical effects are significant and failing to account for example for surface albedo can result in suboptimal or even counterproductive climate-motivated policies of the land-based sectors.

The climate benefit of biochar is for example largely reduced when albedo is considered. In contrast, cover crops in Central and West Europe as a general rule of thumb have been shown to increase SOC, reduce GHGs, and increase albedo, potentially a win-win-win strategy.

However, the effect of a given practice on climate is highly context-specific and could have undesirable effects depending on soil type and climate. More field data to explore a diversity of pedoclimatic contexts combined with a diversity of land use and management is required.

Biophysical effects are also very important contributing factors to mitigate local temperature extremes and can play a role in adaptation to climate change. At present, the description of management practices is too coarse in climate models and a better coupling these with soil-crop models could improve the assessment of practices on local, regional and global climate.

Albedo is not the only biophysical effect to consider. The change in the energy balance also has implications for the water cycle, especially for evapotranspiration. For example, forests have a lower albedo than crops or grasslands (warming effect), but a much higher evapotranspiration (cooling effect). Other aspects to consider are changes in surface roughness and emission of volatile organic compounds, affecting turbulent fluxes and the water cycle.

The role of biophysical effects such as albedo on climate change, in relation to management practices, has been scarcely studied, especially for non-forested ecosystems such as croplands and grasslands. The relationship between the two is a crucial information gap that must be filled in the coming decade by the scientific community.

February 18, 2021   •   News

The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Centre is now looking for an experienced scientist to join their senior management team. As Deputy Director your duties include supporting the Director, developing greenhouse gas mitigation research programmes, contributing to domestic and international research contracts, establishing relationships with key stakeholders, providing knowledge on climate change and more!

An ideal candidate would have a PhD in a climate change related discipline, experience in leadership and an understanding of working with government departments and international fora. The position can be based in various locations, namely Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North.

Applications close on the 10th of March 2021. For further information and information on how to apply, follow the link below.

February 17, 2021   •   News

On February the 23rd (1pm EST), FONTAGRO are running a webstream centring around how to build and support resilient agricultural systems. The event will focus on Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean and New Zealand, but resilient agriculture is a topic that will continue to become more prevalent as more is understood about climate change.

This webstream will be broadcast live on the FONTAGRO website, which is linked below in Spanish and English.