FAO: Raise climate ambitions to cut methane emissions by 30% to curb global warming


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has challenged countries to reduce methane emissions, particularly from livestock, by 30 per cent to limit global warming by 2030.

FAO says almost 600 million tonnes of methane are emitted into the atmosphere each year.

Of these, about 60 per cent originates from human activities.

Agriculture contributes to nearly half of the global anthropogenic methane production, followed by fossil fuels and waste.

The livestock sector is one of the greatest contributors to methane emissions, mainly produced through the natural digestive process of ruminants known as “enteric fermentation” and manure management practices.

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas that increases global temperature.

Aimable Uwizeye, the livestock policy officer at the FAO Animal Production and Health Division, said on Wednesday livestock is highly vulnerable to climate change.

“It is highly affected by drought and rain. Livestock also contributes to greenhouse gases,” he said.

Uwizeye said a FAO report titled ‘Pathways to Lower Emissions’ shows global livestock emission represents about 12 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

He said methane is the main gas resulting from the production of inputs, animal products and processing.

Uwizeye challenged countries to raise their ambitions by integrating specific measures in livestock in nationally determined contributions.

FAO has organised a regional workshop in collaboration with the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) on scaling up national climate actions in Eastern and Southern Africa to increase climate resilience and reduce methane emissions.

The three-day workshop that started on Wednesday in Naivasha is being attended by 20 countries from Eastern and Southern Africa.

They include Angola, Botswana, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe where livestock is relevant to the national economy.

FAO supports countries to mitigate methane emissions from livestock as part of their climate actions, while improving food security and livelihoods.

Bernard Kimoro, the head of climate change and livestock sustainability at the State Department for Livestock Development in the Agriculture ministry, said the livestock subsector contributes more than 90 of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions and about 20 per cent of Kenya’s greenhouse gas emissions.

He said at the national level, the country is coming up with a strategy for animal feed.

“The strategy is still a draft but the whole idea is to ensure our farmers have good quality feed,” Kimoro said.

He said at the policy level, there is a national animal strategy being formulated to guide who produces animal feed and how to measure their quality.

“We are also creating awareness where the farmers are producers.”

Kimoro said several projects are being used to raise awareness in the country.

African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) director for monitoring and evaluation Dr Joel Onyango said Kenya needs a clear strategy on how to tackle methane emissions, especially among farmers.

He said practical elements should be embedded in day-to-day activities that livestock farmers undertake for them to understand their role in the emissions.

Africa has many pastoralists and livestock rearing is their traditional way of life.

Statistics from the government show that Kenya’s total greenhouse gas emissions have increased from 56.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 1995 to 93.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2015.

Projections showed the emissions will hit 143 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.

The 2015 emissions represent an increase of 65.2 per cent over the period and less than 0.1 per cent of the 2015 global emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry.

In 2015, the leading source of emissions was agriculture at 40 per cent of the total national emissions, mostly livestock enteric fermentation, manure left on pasture and agriculture and fertiliser application.

This was closely followed by land use, land use change and forestry at 38 per cent due to deforestation and energy, including transport at 18 per cent.

Kenya, in her updated Nationally Determined Contribution, has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.

Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2023 says there are 3,355,407 exotic cattle in the country, 14,112,367 indigenous cattle, 17,129,606 sheep, 27,740,153 goats and 2,971,111 camels.

The survey says Eastern hosts 373,307 exotic cattle, 1,886,854 indigenous, 1,890,898 sheep, 4,729,057 goats and 248,634 camels.

Northeastern has 80,422 exotic cattle, 2,694,786 indigenous cattle, 4,264,155 sheep, 7,886,586 goats and 1,700,893 camels.