Mitigation measures

There is an extensive list of technically possible options for mitigating emission ns in agriculture and land-use. For example, ECCP (2001) identify a list of 60 possible options; Weiske (2005) considers around 150; and Moorby et al. (2007) identify 21. Moran et al. (2008) identify more than 100 crop/soil and livestock measures potentially applicable in the United Kingdom. Measures may be categorised as: reducing emissions via improved farming efficiency, including genetic improvement; displacing fossil fuel emissions via alternative energy sources; and enhancing the removal of atmospheric CO2 via sequestration into soil and vegetation sinks. Some mitigation options, typically current best management practices, deliver improved farm profitability as well as lower emissions and thus might be adopted without government intervention beyond continued promotion/revision of benchmarking and related advisory information services.

However, the majority of mitigation options entail additional cost to farmers. This raises questions regarding: Which measures can be implemented on farm? Where, when, and at what cost? What effect will different measures have on emissions? The derivation of efficient mitigation options requires some understanding of the relative cost of measures in terms of cost per tonne of CO2e. This information defines the marginal abatement cost curve, which shows higher emission savings becoming increasingly expensive to achieve in terms of extra effort or income foregone. Consequently, cost-effective mitigation is likely to be significantly less than the technically feasible potential: the absolute size of emissions from a particular activity is less important than the cost of reducing its size, since it is avoidable rather than total emissions that are of interest. In addition, understanding farmers' decision making processes and behaviours is critical as even many of the win-win options are not currently being adopted. Identifying the reasons for this and how behaviour could be influenced to encourage greater uptake of options is needed in order to achieve real reductions in emissions.

Recent empirical literature about GHG emissions from agriculture highlights different elements of effectiveness and efficiency. There are several attempts to consider technical feasibility of measures and complementarity and the trade-off between them. Some of this literature considers cost but, in the absence of benefits, does not consider efficiency. These papers typically attempt to specify marginal abatement cost function for the agricultural sector (De Cara and Jayet, 2001; Deybe and Fallot, 2003; Gillig et al., 2004; De Cara et al., 2005; and Hediger et al., 2005). Other literature considers costs, but in the context of aggregate welfare assessments of specific policies on mitigation (Gallagher et al., 2003; Saunders et al., 2006; Wier et al., 2002; and Wong and Alavalapati, 2003).

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