Why India is ignoring its methane problem | News | Eco-Business

last month COP26 In Glasgow, 100 countries pledge It aims to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade, compared with 2020 levels. If fully implemented, scientists say: 0.2℃ Global warming is predicted to continue by 2050. India is currently the third warmest country in the world. Biggest methane emittersNotable absences from the list of signatories were China and Russia, along with the first and second largest emitters.

But even as the urgency of reducing global emissions of the potent greenhouse gas grows, Indian scientists warn that making deep cuts to methane emissions at home would require a fundamental overhaul of agricultural systems that India may not be economically or technologically ready for.

Increase in methane

Over the past 200 years, human activities have doubled the amount of methane in the atmosphere. Methane is the second largest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide (CO2). 23 percent Unlike carbon dioxide, the biggest greenhouse gas contributing to global warming, which can persist in the atmosphere for centuries, methane only stays in the atmosphere for around 12 years, but over a 20-year period it can trap around 80 times as much heat as carbon dioxide. Decomposes into CO2 It occurs when it combines with other atmospheric gases, such as oxygen.

Methane is produced when organic matter breaks down in environments with little or no oxygen, such as in water or when food is digested in an animal’s gut. This process: Intestinal fermentationPlants that grow in standing water, such as rice, produce large amounts of methane, but livestock production remains the largest source of emissions in the agricultural sector.

Methane is also emitted from fossil fuel extraction during the exploration, extraction and processing of oil, coal and gas. Until about 20 years ago, the energy sector was the main source of methane emissions, and remains a significant source today, but agriculture is now the largest anthropogenic source of methane emissions. Latest Data From the International Research Initiative The world’s methane budgetAgriculture is estimated to account for 27.3% of total methane emissions, with wetlands being the largest source. Naturally generated methane.

Prabir K. Patra, a scientist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology in Japan and a contributor to the Global Methane Budget, noted that agriculture is a major sticking point in the discussions on how to reduce methane emissions globally. “Without proper consideration of the agricultural sector, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reduce global methane emissions by 30 percent, as mandated by the new COP26 pledges,” he said.

India’s methane hotspots

“Agriculture is the largest source of methane in India, but it is also one of the hardest sectors to abate,” said Abhishek Jain, a researcher on energy and livelihoods at the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a Delhi-based think tank.

the study It has been shown that 63 percent of India’s agricultural methane emissions come from livestock farming, with rice crops accounting for nearly 11 percent.

“India has made its stance on agriculture very clear and has consciously distanced itself from any discussion on emissions from the sector,” said Indu Murthy, a senior fellow at the think tank Centre for Science and Technology Policy Research. She explained that agriculture employs many people in India, but many of those workers live in poverty. At this stage, the country cannot afford to push through aggressive reforms aimed at mitigating climate impacts and put additional strain on the agricultural sector, she said.

CEEW’s Jain said India has been hesitant to join the methane phase-down movement because the lack of mature solutions to mitigate emissions from livestock globally makes it difficult for the country to set targets. Suresh Babu, a senior fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, echoed Jain’s concerns, saying, “India has shown strong commitment to mitigating climate change through its focus on renewable energy, but the agriculture sector has not received much attention in terms of policies and research to phase out emissions embedded in the agricultural process.”

Better crop management to reduce methane

India Largest rice cultivation area India produces more rice than China, the world’s largest rice producer. That means India produces a lot of rice, but its production is inefficient. Most of India’s agriculture is still rain-fed, 90 percent of the land is owned by smallholder farmers and rice productivity is 45.8% lower than the world average.

Countries like Japan have shown that improved crop management techniques can lead to steep and rapid reductions in methane emissions. Japan has adopted methods such as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Improved System of Rice Intensification (MSRI) to increase yields through precise management of soil, water and fertilizer.

“The soil is moist and breathable. [under SRI and MSRI]”Methane emissions are significantly reduced and farmers save on irrigation costs,” Patra said. “There are also significant savings through reduced seed and fertilizer use. All these benefits are achieved without compromising crop yields.”

The same approach could work in India, Patra says. Ultimately, India’s methane emissions problem from rice farming is “just a management issue,” he says. By implementing better technology, he says, “it won’t hurt the economy and it will improve the whole system for farmers.” But he worries that livestock emissions will be a harder problem to solve.

Problems with livestock farming

Global meat, dairy and poultry production is It has quadrupled Over the past 50 years. The study predicts As countries develop and family incomes rise, meat and dairy products will likely make up a larger portion of people’s diets. “Feed innovations that can reduce methane emissions from animals are largely at the experimental and pilot stages, with limited commercialization,” Jain explains.

India’s livestock population grown Since 2012, methane emissions have increased by 4.6 percent, and with cattle numbers increasing by 18 percent at the last census, this figure is expected to grow in the coming years. While it is difficult to accurately predict future methane emission trends, Patra is confident that methane emissions will continue to rise as the livestock sector grows.

Suresh Babu suggests that under the current policy regime, it may be difficult to control India’s cow population. policy Cow slaughter is not permitted. “The government should look at this issue not just from an ideological perspective but also from an economic and environmental perspective,” Babu said.

Jain believes India can partially reduce methane emissions from livestock by increasing livestock productivity and reducing herd numbers. India’s milk production is still about one-fifth of that of top producers such as the United States, but Jain added that the problem should be tackled without adopting methods that have plagued Western countries, such as the overuse of antibiotics and hormones. “Even without such interventions, there is plenty of scope to improve milk production through improved breeding and balanced feed,” he said.

There’s also a lot of uncertainty when it comes to wetlands and freshwater systems. “As global temperatures rise, the soil and water warm up, and wetlands emit more methane,” Patra says. “We know what will increase methane emissions in the future, but we don’t know what’s causing them,” he explains. [steps may be needed to] Please reduce it.”

This story begins: Third Pole.


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