Climate change is a double-edged challenge for the growth of the livestock sector. Livestock production in the tropics is currently vulnerable to climate risk and therefore will be significantly affected by future climate change; conversely, livestock production is the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture. Global estimates, however, are based entirely on emission factors from developed countries—there is virtually no data on emissions from livestock systems in low- and middle-income countries. To date, research on adaptation in livestock production has lagged behind efforts to reduce GHG emissions (mitigation), which is a concern given that livestock are an important asset for many households to cope with climate shocks. This challenge has been given greater urgency since the 2015 Paris Agreement when many countries included livestock production as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions.
Field-tested solutions for both mitigation and adaptation will be used by governments and NGOs to meet their mitigation and adaptation commitments. Policy advice on institutional arrangements will help to ensure that the enabling incentives to increase adoption of ‘climate-smart’ interventions are in place. Support for measuring emissions will help the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to attract climate finance.
For mitigation, our unique facilities in Africa allow us to directly measure GHG emissions from livestock and livestock production systems. This will lead to improved emissions estimates that national partners can use for reporting on their climate change commitments, rather than relying on data from industrialized countries. This is critical as animals in Asia and Africa are produced under very different conditions. For adaptation, we seek to close the knowledge gap regarding the impacts of climate change on livestock production systems. This information can then be used to prioritize adaptation interventions that are linked to monitoring and reporting systems of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).