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#SSECCM-IE Project: Presentation on Agriculture, Forestry and Land Use (AFOLU)

posted 14 Oct 2019, 06:04 by Paul Price   [ updated 15 Nov 2019, 06:00 by ECRN ECRN ]
On 4th October 2019, on behalf of the SSECCM-IE project, Paul Price gave a presentation as part of an event on agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) in Ireland (see pdf of the slides). The event was funded by the European Climate Initiative (EUKI) and organised by Birdwatch Ireland with Stop Climate Chaos and the Environmental Pillar. 

Analysing Irish AFOLU policy in relation to climate mitigation, the four main points emphasised in this presentation are:
  1. Rising overuse of reactive nitrogen (Nr): up 38% in 7 years, from 296 ktN in 2011 to 408 ktN in 2018:
    • Major environmental increases in N-pollution are occurring from increased use of Nr in fertiliser and in feed:
      • Nitrous oxide (N2O) climate pollution, a potent GHG: 265 x CO2
      • Ammonia (NH3) air pollution damage to biodiversity & human health
      • Nitrate (NO3) water pollution impacts on human health & ecosystems.
    • Increasing, wasteful overuse of Nr, particularly in N-to-food inefficient animal agriculture:
    • Nr from N-fertiliser boosts grass growth, thereby driving up cattle methane
    • Feed has indirect land & fertiliser cost. More feed = more cattle methane
    • Added threat of increased Nr use due to biogas production
      • Planned Irish biogas from grass is based on using even more N-fertiliser.

  2. Must avoid carbon stock vs. flow confusion
    • Land carbon is easily lost (from peat and forestry) but only slowly regained.
    • Land carbon ≠ fossil carbon ≠ methane
    • Limiting land carbon stock losses (peat extraction & forest harvest) are priorities.

  3. Impacts depend on total pollution
    • Better efficiency is NOT the same as cutting total pollution. Too often, this fact is not made clearly.
    • Enforced limits on total pollution or production would drive efficiency gains.

  4. Beef & dairy must not ‘feed the world’
    • More total ruminant methane likely breaks Paris-aligned global carbon budget or Ireland's Paris-aligned carbon quota.
    • Cutting methane emissions steadily and permanently is a very effective climate mitigation lever.

Figure (below): Schematic of reactive nitrogen (Nr) and related pollution flows in agricultural land use.
Schematic of reactive nitrogen (Nr) and related pollution flows

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This project is funded under the EPA Research Programme 2014-2020. The EPA Research Programme is a Government of Ireland initiative funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
DISCLAIMER: Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the material contained in this blogpost, complete accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the authors accept any responsibility whatsoever for loss or damage occasioned or claimed to have been occasioned, in part or in full, as a consequence of any person acting or refraining from acting, as a result of a matter contained in this blogpost.