The agricultural sector is responsible for over 10% of global man-made GHG emissions, while it is also a major driver of indirect emissions through the conversion of forests and other natural systems to farmland. Yet agricultural emissions are rarely included in corporate GHG emission inventories, often because of confusion surrounding appropriate accounting and reporting practices. There are many challenges to developing inventories in this sector. These include the existence of reversible carbon stocks and the fact that environmental factors can affect emissions as much as farm management practices do.
The GHG Protocol has embarked on the development of new sector-specific guidance - the ‘Agricultural Guidance’. With a majority of India’s population engaged in agriculture and allied activities, the ‘Agricultural Guidance’ can be a game changer to addressing accounting challenges in this sector. The Agricultural Guidance will provide clarity on how the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard should be used by agribusiness, to improve efficiency, sustainability and profitability in this sector.
With governmental and non-governmental initiatives seeking to develop tools or metrics for assessing the climate impact of farms and the primary audience being agricultural producers, food processing and food product companies and GHG reporting programs, the Agricultural Guidance aims to -
Establish rigorous, consensus-based and internationally-relevant methods for developing corporate inventories
Help support and catalyze the use of corporate GHG inventories as the basis for measuring and managing agricultural emissions
WRI is conducting a series of workshops internationally to obtain feedback on the first draft of the Protocol. Further information on these workshops, including agenda, presentations and summaries of participant feedback, can be accessed here. In addition, the India GHG program team welcomes any independent feedback on the Guidance from stakeholders. We currently anticipate releasing the final draft of the Agricultural Guidance in March 2014.
A Case from Brazil
Brazil stands out in terms of the importance of GHG emissions from land use. Approximately 80% of Brazil’s GHG emissions result from agriculture and land use change in the Amazon and cerrado biomes. Over the past four years, WRI has worked closely with local partners to establish the Brazil GHG Protocol Program. As recently announced, the GHG Protocol is now building on its experience in Brazil by adapting the international Agricultural Guidance to the specific needs and challenges faced by Brazilian agriculture. Over the next two years, WRI will develop the customized guidance and an accompanying set of emission factors. These resources will cover the specific management practices advocated in Brazil’s ABC Program and therefore help companies contribute to the national GHG emissions reduction targets for agriculture defined in Brazil’s National Plan on Climate Change. WRI will also work with select agro-industry firms to create emissions inventories using the tools and then design company-specific GHG mitigation strategies. Once validated in the field, we hope to integrate the tools into various national and state-level reporting programs and registries in Brazil.