Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Methane

18 February 2020

The University of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project has published a new series of blog posts exploring controversies in the food system. The series aims to explore and clarify areas where evidence is unclear.

Image: PommeGrenade, Cow Grazing, Pixabay, Pixabay Licence
18 February 2020

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has published a response to the paper Climate change: ‘no get out of jail free card’ (summarised on the FCRN website here). Costain argues that biological methane emissions - such as those from grazing livestock - can be “warming neutral” as long as they fall by 10% by 2050. Citing Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen, Costain argues that sharply cutting ruminant numbers would only deliver a warming reduction of 0.1ºC at most, which would be outweighed within a few years by continuing carbon dioxide emissions.

Image: David B Gleason, Cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
10 February 2020

In this debate piece, authors Pete Smith and Andrew Balmford argue that the recent development of the GWP* method of measuring the climate impact of short-lived greenhouse gases (notably methane), as opposed to the conventional GWP method, should not be used as an excuse to avoid reducing methane emissions. Read more about the differences between GWP* and GWP in the article New way to evaluate short-lived greenhouse gas emissions.

20 January 2020

This book reviews different feed strategies for improving ruminant digestion and their effects on methane emissions, animal health and meat and milk quality.

13 January 2020

Farmwel chief executive ffinlo Costain has launched a new podcast, Farm Gate, which focuses on practical solutions for climate and food security. The topics covered are relevant for everyone who eats food, but particularly intended for farmers, food chain professionals, and policy-makers. The FCRN’s Tara Garnett was interviewed in the episode Is 'vegan' a dirty word?

Image: Christine Zenino, Greenland Ice (4018284492), Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
2 December 2019

This commentary reviews the evidence on climate tipping points - i.e. irreversible (on a human timescale) and abrupt shifts from one climate state to another - and concludes that several interlinked tipping points could be already active or very near to being triggered. Cutting emissions could still slow down the rate at which the tipping points operate, the authors argue.

Image: Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience
19 November 2019

The UK’s Countryfile TV programme has featured research by the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR) at Coventry University, which is using farm-based trials to study whether feeding biochar (a form of charcoal) to cattle can reduce their emissions of methane and ammonia.

18 September 2019

Michelle Cain, Myles Allen and John Lynch of the University of Oxford have published a plain-language briefing note that explains how different ways of measuring the climate impact of methane (GWP100 versus GWP*) affect definitions of net zero emissions targets.

Image: Max Pixel, Pressure Industrial Pipe, Creative Commons CC0
17 June 2019

Methane emissions from ammonia fertiliser manufacturing plants (which use natural gas as a feedstock and energy source) in the United States are around one hundred times higher than currently reported levels, according to this study. Researchers used a Google Street View car equipped with methane analysers to take measurements downwind of six ammonia fertiliser plants (there are only 23 such plants in the US).

Image: David Blaikie, New Zealand Cattle, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
13 May 2019

New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.

Image: Pxhere, Landscape grass horizon, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This paper, by John Lynch of the University of Oxford’s LEAP project, finds that carbon footprint studies of beef cattle typically do not report separate values for emissions of different greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Instead, studies generally report only an aggregated figure in the form of the 100-year Global Warming Potential (GWP100) as CO2-equivalent.

Image: Max Pixel, Cows on pasture, CC0 Public Domain
26 February 2019

This paper, by researchers from the University of Oxford’s LEAP project, models the climate impacts of beef cattle and cultured meat over the next 1000 years using a climate model that treats carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide separately, instead of using the widespread Global Warming Potential, which assigns a CO2-equivalent value to each greenhouse gas according to warming caused over a specified timeframe.​

Image: herbert2512, Sheep flock of, Pixabay, Pixabay license
11 February 2019

This paper uses economic models to calculate the extent to which both supply-side and demand-side measures could reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector, depending on carbon price.

Image: Sonja Pieper, Ploughing a rice field in South India, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
8 October 2018

Rice cultivation emits methane and nitrous oxide, which are both more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. Policies to reduce methane emissions from rice farming generally recommend using intermittent (as opposed to continuous) flooding. However, intermittent flooding could produce much higher nitrous oxide emissions than continuous flooding, according to a recent paper.

Image: trf57, Sheep New Zealand, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
12 September 2018

New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a report exploring how much and over what timescale the climate is affected by methane emissions from livestock. It focused on two questions. First,if methane emissions from livestock were held at current levels or followed business-as-usual trajectories, what would their contribution to future warming be? Second, what reduction in methane emissions from livestock would be needed so that they cause no additional contribution to warming?

Image: Pixabay, Dominoes barricade, CC0 Creative Commons
20 August 2018

Researchers have warned that a cascade of positive feedback loops could push global temperatures into a “Hothouse Earth” state for millennia, even if human greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Some systems, such as ice sheets, forests and permafrost, could pass a temperature tipping point beyond which they rapidly become net contributors to climate change. If one is set off, the warming produced could trigger the remaining tipping points, like a line of dominoes.

Image: Tobias Akerboom, Complaining cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
10 July 2018

A paper proposes a new method for evaluating the climate impact of short-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane. Different GHGs are currently assessed on the basis of global warming potential (GWP), calculated as carbon dioxide equivalent, usually over a 100 year time horizon. The paper authors say that this misrepresents the impact of short-lived GHGs, because they have stronger climate impacts shortly after being released and lower impacts after being in the atmosphere for some time.

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