Tackling Agri Methane to achieve Paris Agreement Goals

Climate change concerns have been stoking an unfathomable fear: is this an irreversible meltdown? Environmental scientists have been assessing the damages and suggesting mitigation strategies. For India, tackling methane (CH4) is of vital importance as “India is among the top four emitters of CH4 from rice cultivation and livestock sector”. CH4 mitigation will thus help India to make strong strides in achieving the climate change goals.

There have been scientific evidences to establish that weather variabilities due to climate change will impact the agriculture sector badly. In a recent article in Financial Express, senior consultant, Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe), Debesh Roy, delves on the need to restrict greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions to 1.5% above pre-industrial levels set by the Paris Agreement, and talks of how the agriculture sector can help in India. For achieving the 1.5% goal, emissions must drop 7.6% per year till 2030, he says. The expert spotlights the need to arrest CH4 emissions as these account for a third of the GHG warming.

Agriculture, he writes, is the largest contributing factor to global emissions of non-CO2 GHGs (48% of emissions in 2015). Out of this, paddy cultivation accounts for 15-20% of the total anthropogenic methane emissions. He points out that methods like System of Rice Intensification (SRI), drip irrigation, soil amendments, organic matter management, different tillage and rotation can facilitate mitigation of methane emission by 22% to 64%.

As an added bonus, he writes that such strategies also help in a “significant reduction in the cost of production, saving of freshwater and increasing yield and farmers’ income”.

The expert mentions that despite being practised for more than two decades, SRI has still not been mainstreamed in India. Skilling farmers to adopt the SRI technique and disseminating its benefits needs to be prioritised by the central and state governments, and NABARD, he suggests.