Cost-effective opportunities for climate change mitigation in Indian agriculture

Tek B. Sapkota (Corresponding Author), Sylvia H Vetter, M L Jat, Smita Sirohi, Paresh B Shirsath, Rajbir Singh, Hanuman S Jat, Pete Smith, Jon Hillier, Clare M. Stirling

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Long-term changes in average temperatures, precipitation, and climate variability threaten agricultural production, food security, and the livelihoods of farming communities globally. While adaptation to climate change is necessary to ensure food security and protect livelihoods of poor farmers, mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can lessen the extent of climate change and future needs for adaptation. Many agricultural practices can potentially mitigate GHG emissions without compromising food production. India is the third largest GHG emitter in the world where agriculture is responsible for 18% of total
national emissions. India has identified agriculture as one of the priority sectors for GHG emission reduction in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Identification of emission hotspots and costeffective mitigation options in agriculture can inform the prioritisation of efforts to reduce emissions without compromising food and nutrition security.
We adopted a bottom-up approach to analyse GHG emissions using large datasets of India's 'cost of cultivation survey' and the '19th livestock census' together with soil, climate and management data for each location. Mitigation measures and associated costs and benefits of adoption, derived from a variety of sources including the literature, stakeholder meetings and expert opinion, were presented in the form of Marginal Abatement Cost Curves (MACC). We estimated that by 2030, business-as-usual GHG emissions from the agricultural sector in India would be 515 Megatonne CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) per year with a technical mitigation potential of 85.5 MtCO2e per year through adoption of various mitigation practices. About 80% of the technical mitigation potential
could be achieved by adopting only cost-saving measures. Three mitigation
options, i.e. efficient use of fertiliser, zero-tillage and rice-water management, could deliver more than 50% of the total technical abatement potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1354
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

This work was jointly carried out by International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and University of Aberdeen and funded by the CGIAR research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). CCAFS’ work is supported by CGIAR Fund Donors and through bilateral funding agreements. For details please visit The views expressed in this paper cannot be taken to reflect the official opinions of these organizations. We sincerely acknowledge the input and support provided by various stakeholders in India during stakeholder meetings. We are thankful to Gokul Prasad for graphics assistance.


  • greenhouse gas
  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • mitigation
  • marginal abatement cost curves
  • India
  • Mitigation
  • Climate change
  • Marginal Abatement Cost Curve
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Agriculture


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