Chapter 11 - Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU)

Smith P, Clark H, Dong H, Elsiddig EA, Haberl H, Harper R, House J, Jafari M, et al. (2014). Chapter 11 - Agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU). In: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5. Cambridge University Press.

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Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) plays a central role for food security and sustainable development. Plants take up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and nitrogen (N) from the soil when they grow, re-distributing it among different pools, including above and below-ground living biomass, dead residues, and soil organic matter. The CO2 and other non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHG), largely methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), are in turn released to the atmosphere by plant respiration, by decomposition of dead plant biomass and soil organic matter, and by combustion. Anthropogenic land-use activities (e.g., management of croplands, forests, grasslands, wetlands), and changes in land use / cover (e.g., conversion of forest lands and grasslands to cropland and pasture, afforestation) cause changes superimposed on these natural fluxes. AFOLU activities lead to both sources of CO2 (e.g., deforestation, peatland drainage) and sinks of CO2 (e.g., afforestation, management for soil carbon sequestration), and to non-CO2 emissions primarily from agriculture (e.g., CH4 from livestock and rice cultivation, N2O from manure storage and agricultural soils and biomass burning.

The main mitigation options within AFOLU involve one or more of three strategies: reduction / prevention of emissions to the atmosphere by conserving existing carbon pools in soils or vegetation that would otherwise be lost or by reducing emissions of CH4 and N2O; sequestration - enhancing the uptake of carbon in terrestrial reservoirs, and thereby removing CO2 from the atmosphere; and reducing CO2 emissions by substitution of biological products for fossil fuels or energy-intensive products. Demand-side options (e.g., by lifestyle changes, reducing losses and wastes of food, changes in human diet, changes in wood consumption), though known to be difficult to implement, may also play a role.

Land is the critical resource for the AFOLU sector and it provides food and fodder to feed the Earth's population of ~7 billion, and fibre and fuel for a variety of purposes. It provides livelihoods for billions of people worldwide. It is finite and provides a multitude of goods and ecosystem services that are fundamental to human well-being. Human economies and quality of life are directly dependent on the services and the resources provided by land. Figure 11.1 shows the many provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services provided by land, of which climate regulation is just one. Implementing mitigation options in the AFOLU sector may potentially affect other services provided by land in positive or negative ways.

In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment Report (SAR) and in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), agricultural and forestry mitigation were dealt with in separate chapters. In the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), there were no separate sectoral chapters on either agriculture or forestry. In the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), for the first time, the vast majority of the terrestrial land surface, comprising agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU), is considered together in a single chapter, though settlements (which are important, with urban areas forecasted to triple in size from 2000 global extent by 2030), are dealt with in Chapter 12. This approach ensures that all land-based mitigation options can be considered together; it minimizes the risk of double counting or inconsistent treatment (e.g., different assumptions about available land) between different land categories, and allows the consideration of systemic feedbacks between mitigation options related to the land surface. Considering AFOLU in a single chapter allows phenomena common across land-use types, such as competition for land and water, co-benefits, adverse side-effects and interactions between mitigation and adaptation to be considered consistently. The complex nature of land presents a unique range of barriers and opportunities, and policies to promote mitigation in the AFOLU sector need to take account of this complexity.

In this chapter, we consider the competing uses of land for mitigation and for providing other services. Unlike the chapters on agriculture and forestry in AR4, impacts of sourcing bioenergy from the AFOLU sector are considered explicitly in a dedicated appendix. Also new to this assessment is the explicit consideration of food / dietary demand-side options for GHG mitigation in the AFOLU sector, and some consideration of freshwater fisheries and aquaculture, which may compete with the agriculture and forestry sectors, mainly through their requirements for land and / or water, and indirectly, by providing fish and other products to the same markets as animal husbandry.

This chapter deals with AFOLU in an integrated way with respect to the underlying scenario projections of population growth, economic growth, dietary change, land-use change (LUC), and cost of mitigation. We draw evidence from both "bottom-up" studies that estimate mitigation potentials at small scales or for individual options or technologies and then scale up, and multi-sectoral "top-down" studies that consider AFOLU as just one component of a total multi-sector system response. In this chapter, we provide updates on emissions trends and changes in drivers and pressures in the AFOLU sector, describe the practices available in the AFOLU sector, and provide refined estimates of mitigation costs and potentials for the AFOLU sector, by synthesising studies that have become available since AR4. We conclude the chapter by identifying gaps in knowledge and data, providing a selection of Frequently Asked Questions, and presenting an Appendix on bioenergy to update the IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN).

Item Type: Book Section
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: In:; Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5; Cambridge University Press
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:51
Last Modified: 23 May 2017 14:53

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