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2009: Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture

Selecting the best mitigation options

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has been established to advise on the best way to share out national targets. As an input to this task, Defra commissioned SRUC to research the cost-effectiveness of various mitigation options in the agriculture, land use, land use change and forestry sectors (see Moran et. al. 2008). Cost-effectiveness is crucial because while there are many potential mitigation measures, some will be more attractive than others. The challenge is to stabilise GHG concentrations at a level that avoids the worst climate change risks for least cost – maximising emissions reductions without damaging the UK economy.

The research started from the recognition that each potential measure for reducing agricultural GHG emissions will deliver a certain level of benefit (reduction in emissions) for a specific cost. This relationship between costs and benefits can be represented on a Marginal Abatement Cost Curve (see attached briefing). Some measures, such as adopting energy saving practices on farms, may be able to reduce emissions and save money. Other measures may reduce emissions more, but incur a positive cost. Generally speaking, the greater the level of mitigation sought, the higher the cost. The present task is to identify which measures will give most greenhouse gas mitigation for negative or least cost.

SRUC's research on the cost-effectiveness of mitigation measures in the agriculture, forestry, land-use and land-use change sectors allows a comparison of the different options. This and similar work will provide insight into the best options to pursue. More broadly, similar work in different sectors can be integrated and used as the basis for determining national carbon budgets and for identifying where effort should be applied.

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