Agricultural sector: key to China’s carbon targets

March 29, 2022

BEIJING – Villages have the potential to save a lot of energy and drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions as environmentally friendly agriculture develops as part of rural revitalization efforts, which received new impetus during discussions at of the two sessions this year.

During their annual meetings earlier this month, national lawmakers and policy advisers said that to achieve the goal of reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060, the role of agricultural sector should be highlighted.

Emissions from the sector reached 830 million metric tons in 2014, or 6.7% of the national total, according to the latest data released by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Database System.

Zhao Lixin, a deputy in the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, said carbon emissions in agriculture mainly come from methane and nitrous oxide from paddy fields, fertilizers, gas emissions and animal excrement.

Reducing intensity, increasing carbon sequestration and using renewable energy as a substitute can be ways to achieve peak carbon and carbon neutrality in the agricultural sector and rural areas, said Zhao, who is also director of the Institute of Environment of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. and sustainable development in agriculture.

For example, intermittent rice irrigation, in which the field is alternately watered and drained, can control the methane released from rice fields, Zhao said.

More efficient use of fertilizers can reduce nitrous oxide emissions, while improving animal health and their ability to digest feed can help reduce methane releases.

Zhao suggested turning farmland – the main source of carbon emissions in rural areas – into carbon sinks through measures such as straw manure and the use of organic fertilizers.

Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to decrease by 172 million tonnes across the country from the full utilization of crop stalks and straw by 2030, with a potential drop of 273 million tonnes from 2060, Zhao said.

A roadmap to achieve peak carbon emissions and carbon neutrality in the agricultural sector and rural areas should be created, Zhao said.

“We need to forecast trends and peaks in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions on the premise of ensuring food security and the efficient supply of important agricultural products,” she said. “We also need to assess the potential and cost of reducing emissions, carbon sequestration and replacement with renewable energy in rural areas.”

Efforts should also be made to conduct research on techniques for reducing greenhouse gas emissions during agricultural production and poultry farming, Zhao said, and energy-saving equipment should be developed. developed for industrial agriculture, large-scale animal husbandry, slaughter, processing and transport.

Lana T. Arthur