April 23, 2018 | Climate change

The carbon budget is the acceptable quantity of greenhouse gas emission that can be emitted at a given time. This budget is, however, expected to ensure that temperatures stay within limits in order to avoid the worsening impacts of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific and intergovernmental body under the United Nations, projects that the planet has a 50% chance of preventing a dangerous global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (2 °C) by the end of the century if there’s a reduction of greenhouse gas concentration. They further revealed that there has been a 0.8% increase in average global temperature over the past century, much of that since the 1970s.

If the gas emission pattern persists, Africa is expected to get much hotter than the global average. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) estimates that there are 500 million smallholder farms in the world. In Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers produce up to 80% of the food consumed and support up to two billion people. Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) shows that agriculture contributes one-third of greenhouse gas emissions but if concerned parties refocus on agriculture carbon footprint, substantial reduction of greenhouse gases can be realized.

Agricultural related emissions and the adverse impacts of climate change will have a huge impact on food security and make our environment harsher. Investing in the adoption and mitigation of climate change mechanism is a key to cutting greenhouse gas emission. It also helps millions of farmers ensure food security, which, in essence, increases adoption of smart farming.

Scientific experts also point out that the manufacture of fertilizers accounts for up to 575 megatons of carbon dioxide and refrigeration emits 490 megatons. The greenhouse emission for the entire food chain system was estimated to be between  9,800 and 16,900 in the year 2008. Farmers are key contributors to the implementation of adaptation initiatives which involve enhanced agronomic practices, forestation, and rehabilitation of degraded lands.

Under the impact of climate change, food security can be achieved by building the resiliency of communities and individual farmers through long-term participation and adaptation plans. This calls for more investments in the development and adoption of new agriculture innovations and technologies which can help scale up production of food and reduction of greenhouse gas emission.

The UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is tasked with reducing forest emissions and enhancing carbon stocks in forests while contributing to national sustainable development. This programme develops strategies that seek to address issues related to deforestation such as causes of deforestation, sustainable forest management, and monitoring capacity. Agroforestry or tree-based farming practices that combine conservation and agriculture would be an ideal and effective system for managing carbons credits and payment for environmental services, a financial activity that will encourage more farmers to plant trees.

The fifth carbon budget report puts carbon budget for the UK at 1,765 MtCO2e for 2028-2032, this includes emissions from international shipping. That would mean limiting annual emissions to an average
57% below 1990 levels. The report noted that there has been a reduction of greenhouse gases due to the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings and transport while there has been a shift to lower-carbon fuels in electricity generation like natural gas and more recently renewable sources. There have also been reductions in non-CO2 gases, in particular because less waste has been sent to landfill.

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