Monthly Archives: June 2013

Good Reasons for Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) Research

Alex De PintoThis is a guest post from Alex De Pinto, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI

It is now widely recognized that natural resource use in many developing countries, from crop production to deforestation, is responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. We also know that, in many countries, it is the agricultural and forestry sectors — not industry or transport — that provide low-cost mitigation opportunities. As countries experience economic growth and choose among the available development pathways, they are in a favorable position to adopt natural resource use technologies and production practices characterized by low GHG emissions. Rather than embedding high emissions practices in their development and intervene on emissions reduction at a later stage, they can utilize Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS).

Smokestacks polluting the atmosphereFrom a technical point of view, reducing expected increases in GHG emissions requires the adoption of transformative approaches that improve the efficiency of resource uses. Potential methods include more efficient uses of fertilizers, water, and fossil fuels, as well as waste reduction and shifts to foods that yield lower emissions. However, the implementation of LEDS also requires that decision-makers are able to compare the emission characteristics of alternative development pathways in relation to other objectives such as export goals or food security. Opportunities that exist in countries with substantial stands of tropical rainforests differ from those in countries with little forest and widespread irrigated agriculture, and from those in countries with semi-arid landscapes with pastoral and agroforestry systems.

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Workshop on Reducing GHG Emissions in Bangladesh from Agriculture, Forestry, and Land Use Change

I was part of a workshop in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 6, during which preliminary results were presented regarding the work of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) under a USAID-funded research project on Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS) in the agriculture, forestry, and land use change (AFOLU) sectors. The workshop brought together senior people from several ministries, national agricultural research institutes, and universities.

Photo of workshop organizers
(From left) Tim Thomas (IFPRI), Khandaker Mainuddin (BCAS), Atiq Rahman (BCAS), Alex De Pinto (IFPRI)

GHG emissions in 2005 for BangladeshAs the bar graph on the right shows (which is from data in the Second National Communications to the UNFCCC), greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and land use change make up a significant part of total emissions in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the CO2 emissions from biomass burning, which does not count in the official figures, presents some opportunities for additional savings.

Some possible areas of reduction are in the following list, which is only meant to suggest possible areas to evaluate for their cost-effectiveness, not that they have been tested and recommended. All are looking for win-win scenarios, in which profitability or productivity can rise while reducing GHG emissions. One of the aims of the project is to evaluate the price of the trade-off in the cases that are not win-win.

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Adaptation of Agriculture to Climate Change in Sierra Leone

West African Agriculture and Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis, edited by Abdulai Jalloh, Gerald C. Nelson, Timothy S. Thomas, Robert Zougmoré, and Harold Roy-Macauley, was published in April 2013 by IFPRI. The objective of the book is to help policymakers better understand the impact that climate change will likely have upon their country so as to better prepare for it and make good policies which will help farmers. In this brief post, I focus on the results for Sierra Leone. That chapter was written by Raymond G. Johnson, Mohamed Kandeh, Abdulai Jalloh, Timothy S. Thomas, and Gerald C. Nelson.

Sierra Leone rainfed rice yield change, 2000-2050, MIROC A1 Legend for yield changes from DSSAT crop model, 2000-2050
Yield change for rainfed rice between 2000 and 2050, calculated using crop models with the MIROC A1B climate model

In the book, the authors use two types of models to evaluate the impact of climate change. Using the DSSAT crop model system together with four different climate models, the book reports that even without technological change, Sierra Leone’s primary crop, rice, under rainfed conditions will perform satisfactorily, with yield increases in some locations, and no significant yield changes in most locations, with few declines noted. Using the second model, IMPACT, a global model of supply and demand which allows for technological change, rice yields will rise by around 80 percent between 2010 and 2050, and cassava yields will double. Under the pessimistic scenario, with population increasing by 150 percent between 2000 and 2050, and GDP per capita only reaching around $400, mean under-5 malnutrition may linger well into the future. But under the baseline and optimistic scenarios, income will rise sufficiently to reduce the magnitude of the problem.

Several products are downloadable for the interested reader: