FAO Data Show Rising Agriculture Emissions, Declining Net Land-use Change Emissions

FAO11 April 2014: Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture, forestry and fisheries and other land uses (AFOLU) have doubled over the past fifty years, according to estimates released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). Without increased efforts to address and reduce these emissions, the FAO cautions that emissions could increase an additional 30% by 2050.

GHG emissions increased 14% between 2001 and 2011, primarily in developing countries that expanded their agricultural outputs, according to the FAO estimates. Net land use change and deforestation decreased by 10% between 2001 and 2011 due to decreased deforestation and increased sequestration in many countries. The FAO also notes an increase in energy use from the agriculture sector. However, emissions from agriculture and land use change are growing at a slower rate than emissions from fossil fuels, meaning that AFOLU's share of total anthropogenic emissions is decreasing over time.

“Information gaps have made it extremely difficult for scientists and policymakers to make strategic decisions regarding how to respond to climate change and has hampered efforts to mitigate agriculture's emissions," according to Francesco Tubiello, FAO. Tubiello explained that emissions data on AFOLU activities will help “countries in better identifying their mitigation options and enable their farmers to take faster and more targeted climate-smart responses.”

Regionally, 44% of GHG outputs are based in Asia. The Americas has the second highest GHG emissions at 25%, followed by Africa at 15%. Europe contributed 12% of emissions while Oceania produced 4%, according to FAO's data.

The FAO data were developed through the FAOSTAT emissions database, which was developed in 2012 and will be updated annually. The data contributed to the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report. [FAO Press Release] [Publication: FAO Report on Emissions Data]