Cost-effective opportunities for climate change mitigation in Indian agriculture

Tek B. Sapkota, Sylvia Vetter, M L Jat, Smita Sirohi, Paresh B Shirath, Rajbir Singh, Hanuman S. Jat, Pete Smith, Jon Hillier, Clare M. Stirling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Long-term changes in average temperatures, precipitation, and climate variability threaten agricultural production, food security, and the livelihoods of farming communities globally. Whilst adaptation to climate change is necessary to ensure food security and protect livelihoods of poor farmers, mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can lessen the extent of climate change and future needs for adaptation. Many agricultural practices can potentially mitigate GHG emissions without compromising food production. India is the third largest GHG emitter in the world where agriculture is responsible for 18% of total national emissions. India has identified agriculture as one of the priority sectors for GHG emission reduction in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Identification of emission hotspots and cost-effective mitigation options in agriculture can inform the prioritisation of efforts to reduce emissions without compromising food and nutrition security.

We adopted a bottom-up approach to analyse GHG emissions using large datasets of India's ‘cost of cultivation survey’ and the ‘19th livestock census’ together with soil, climate and management data for each location. Mitigation measures and associated costs and benefits of adoption, derived from a variety of sources including the literature, stakeholder meetings and expert opinion, were presented in the form of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC). We estimated that by 2030, business-as-usual GHG emissions from the agricultural sector in India would be 515 Megatonne CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) per year with a technical mitigation potential of 85.5 MtCO2e per year through adoption of various mitigation practices. About 80% of the technical mitigation potential could be achieved by adopting only cost-saving measures. Three mitigation options, i.e. efficient use of fertilizer, zero-tillage and rice-water management, could deliver more than 50% of the total technical abatement potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1354
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Greenhouse gas
  • Agriculture
  • Climate change
  • Mitigation
  • Marginal Abatement Cost Curve
  • India


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