Carbon Policy for Agriculture

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October 11, 2021

What is the issue?

Although the share of agriculture in India’s total emissions has gradually declined, it has increased in absolute terms to a level similar to China’s in absolute terms emissions.

 What is India’s status with respect to emissions?

  • As per the World Air Quality Report 2020, 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are in India and Delhi is the world’s most polluted capital.
  • According to the Global Carbon Atlas, India ranks third in total greenhouse gas emissions by emitting annually around 2.6 billion tonnes (Bt) CO2eq.
  • India’s per capita emission is just 1.8 tonnes, significantly lower than the world average of 4.4 tonnes per capita.
  • India ranked seventh on the list of countries most affected due to extreme weather events, incurring losses of $69 billion (in PPP) in 2019 (Germanwatch, 2021).
  • In India, energy sector contributes highest emission (44 %), followed by manufacturing and construction sector (18 %), agriculture, forestry and land use sectors (14 %), with remaining being shared by transport, industrial processes and waste sectors.
  • Share of agriculture in total emissions has gradually declined from 28% (1994) to 14% (2016).
  • But in absolute terms, emissions from agriculture have increased to about 650 Mt CO2 in 2018, which is similar to China’s emissions from agriculture.

Emission Share

  • Agricultural emissions in India are primarily from livestock sector (54.6 %), use of nitrogenous fertilisers (19 %), rice cultivation (17.5 %), livestock management (6.9 %) and burning of crop residues (2.1 %).

What is the need for a carbon policy for agriculture?

  • A carbon policy for agriculture is needed not only to reduce its emissions but also to reward farmers through globally tradable carbon credits.
  • With the world’s largest livestock population (537 million), India needs better feeding practices with smaller numbers of cattle by raising their productivity.
  • Direct seeded rice and alternative wet and dry practices can reduce the carbon footprint in rice fields
  • Switching areas from rice to maize or other less water-guzzling crops can reduce the emissions from agriculture.
  • Opening up corn for ethanol can help not only reduce our huge dependence on crude oil imports but also reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Agricultural soils are the largest single source of N2O emissions in India where fertigation and soluble fertilisers can promote fertiliser use efficiency.


Source: The Indian Express

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