By Şeyda Özkan, Félix Teillard, Brian Lindsay, Hayden Montgomery, Antonio Rota, Pierre Gerber, Madhur Dhingra and Anne Mottet
Globally, the impacts of animal health conditions on GHG emissions are significant as they affect mortality, morbidity and productivity. Mitigation packages that include animal health interventions can significantly reduce emissions, and yet there are challenges in terms of measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems. There is currently no standardized way of including improved animal health in the commonly used approaches for developing (GHG) national inventories or nationally determined contributions (NDCs). It also transpires that the mitigation co-benefits of using animal health as an adaptation measure are not always explicit in the NDC commitments. This paper demonstrates how countries can develop an MRV system at national level to be able to include animal health improvements in national climate commitments.
A pre-condition of any attempt to account for the mitigation impact of improving animal health is the use of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Tier 2 or 3 methodology. Only such methodologies make it possible to consider how changes in parameters related to animal health affect emissions, as opposed to the Tier 1 approach that relies on default emission factors, that is, GHG emissions per animal.
Tier 2 activity data are specific to animal categories and local production systems and therefore have a direct link to animal health interventions. They include animal numbers per category (or herd parameters to estimate these numbers such as mortality, fertility, age at first calving, calving interval, weaning age, replacement rate) as well as production data such as milk yield, body weight at different life stages and waste and losses of products. Data on feed rations such as digestibility, feed basket composition and protein content also need to be collected for different categories of animals, as these have a strong influence on emission factors. Finally, data regarding the type of manure management system are needed. Secondary parameters such as energy requirements, methane (CH4 ) conversion factor, feed production practices and energy use are usually calculated using the parameters above. It is, however, important to note that the CH4 conversion factor used for estimating enteric CH4 in Tier 2 methodology does not usually include potential changes resulting from animal health improvements. This may require using Tier 3 approaches with more complex modelling and associated data.
Although required, animal numbers per category are usually not available from national statistics, nor are the herd parameters used to estimate these numbers, such as mortality rate and fertility rate. Information about the quantity of milk or meat discarded as a result of a disease should also be gathered, as it is usually not accounted for in the total production reported in national statistics and therefore not included in the GHG inventory. To ensure the quality of these parameters, dedicated and systematic surveys or monitoring systems at farm or other relevant administrative unit levels should be implemented when feasible. However, secondary data and modelling can also be used. It is critically important that the different actors of the sector are included in the establishment and maintenance of data collection systems. Processors (e.g. dairy cooperative) and feed suppliers may already have, for example, data collection systems that are relevant to Tier 2 based calculations.
One outstanding challenge concerns how the emissions from the livestock sector are reported in national GHG inventories and included in NDCs. In their inventories, countries report direct emissions at sector level. These emissions in the livestock sector include CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation, and CH4 and nitrous oxide (N2 O) emissions from manure management. Emissions from feed production, processing and transport and energy use are reported under “agricultural soils” or the energy sector. Animal health interventions cannot be considered in isolation at animal level as affecting only direct emissions. For example, supply-chain emissions may diminish due to reduced needs for replacement animals or changes in the feed ration. Therefore, it is important to adopt a systems perspective and understand the drivers of supply-chain emissions. Investments to improve research capacity to include forecasting and modelling complex dynamics between climate change and disease/vector distribution will be needed. It will be important to promote and implement research to ensure that the options addressing animal health are linked to other dimensions such as feeding, genetic resources, production systems, food safety and value chains, reflecting the need for a systems perspective.
Enhanced awareness and capacity at national government level and for institutional arrangements are essential. This includes tools tailored to specific country contexts, and stakeholder consultations in formulation of the NDC targets and the development of implementation plans. Inclusive collaboration with the ministry in charge of livestock, and regular communication among different ministries and agencies are, therefore, essential to identify the individuals with knowledge on livestock and emissions. Large investments in livestock by international financial institutions or initiatives led at national supply-chain levels have great potential to be of relevance for reporting in national inventories. For example, a national vaccination campaign, as part of broad livestock development projects, can be identified as contributing to the mitigation ambition of the country, as the case studies included in this brief illustrate. Likewise, countries engaging in projects that aim to boost efficiency in the sector, including through improvements in animal health are likely to have better access to capacity development and tools.
In general, the impact of improvements in animal health are not currently included in national GHG inventories and NDCs
Tier 2 and higher methodologies are necessary to estimate GHG emissions reductions from improved animal health
A data collection and maintenance system needs to be established that includes stakeholders right across the sector
A life cycle assessment (LCA) perspective needs to be considered to account for the reduction in indirect emissions due to improved animal health (e.g. changes in feed consumption, use of pastures, use of energy) applying a systems approach
The capacity of governments and partners needs to be enhanced in calculating emissions with Tier 2 methodology and accounting for impact throughout the value chain
Institutional arrangements need to be inclusive of all actors in the sector, including research and academia as well as the private sector (industry).