Monitoring and Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture 

FAO Assessment of Forests and Carbon Stocks:2001-2015

The newest global estimates of forest emission trends show that total emissions decreased by over 25% over the period 2001–2015. FAO data show that the overall decrease is due to a significant decline in deforestation rates globally, while emissions from forest degradation, estimated today by FAO for the first time, are instead increasing over time, and already represent one-quarter of net emissions from forest.

FAO’s most recent global estimations of carbon emissions from deforestation for the period 2001-2015 point to a reduction of over 25 percent in emissions from deforestation over this period, i.e. from 3.9 to 2.9 Gt of CO2 eq per year. According to the data, forests continue to be a net carbon sink globally, storing some 2 billion tonnes CO2eq annually, during the period 2011-2015. Half of the FAO estimated sink is due to net growth in planted forests.

The data on emissions of greenhouse gases for agriculture in 2012 have been published

New data on emissions of greenhouse gases for agriculture, forestry and other land uses in 2012, are now available in the database of emissions FAOSTAT.

More information can be found here.

FAO-IPCC-IFAD expert meeting: Emerging activities to combat climate change – use of FAO data and IPCC GHG inventory guidelines for agriculture and land use

13-14 November 2014, FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

The FAO, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have joined forces to organize an expert meeting to discuss progress made on data availability and methodological guidance for current and future expected climate change processes. The last such expert meeting was held at IFAD in 2009.

Experts will present and discuss the data and methodological state-of-the-art, including new data and tools developed by FAO since 2009, such as the FAOSTAT Emissions Database and a suite of new guidelines on mitigation. The meeting will focus on addressing emerging needs for the improvement of rural statistics and GHG emission estimates under the current IPCC GHG Inventory Guidelines, in support of existing processes under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), such as national GHG emissions inventories, REDD+ and NAMAs, and as a mean to help member countries better quantify the links between mitigation actions and their larger adaptation and food security goals.

The event will take place in Rome at FAO HQ, November 13-14 2014.

A Manual for estimating GHG emissions for agriculture now available

The Estimating Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture A Manual to Address Data Requirements for Developing Countries was developed in collaboration with the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics. It offers a step-by-step guide on how to estimate GHG emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses, following the Tier 1 approach of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Inventories, and using FAOSTAT, Forest Resources Assessments and other geo-referenced data available at FAO.

The manual has undergone a first set of peer reviews, but remains open through 2014 to continuous contributions and comments from users worldwide. 

Newly updated FAOSTAT Emissions database for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use

The updated FAOSTAT Emissions database for Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) is available online, providing updated estimates for Agriculture (1961-2011, plus projections to 2030 and 2050) and Land Use (1990-2010). Follow this link to read the press release, to access the accompanying GHG Report "Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use: Emissions by Sources and Removals by Sinks, 1990-2011 Analysis" and infographic.  

Check here our radio and video interviews.

FAOSTAT Emissions data has been used in the FAO Statistical Yearbook suite of products in 2013 and 2014

The FAO Statistical Yearbook 2013 World Food and Agriculture sheds new light on agriculture's contribution to global warming, trends in hunger and malnutrition and the state of the natural resource base upon which world food production depends. Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture grew 1.6 percent per year during the decade after the year 2000, new FAO data presented in the yearbook show, with the sector's total annual output in 2010 reaching 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq, a measure used to compare and aggregate different greenhouse gases). This equals 10 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

The FAO Statistical Yearbook 2014 Near East and North Africa Food and Agriculture provides regional statistics and reliable indicators on food and agriculture that can be used for policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation in the region.

Greenhouse gases database now available on FAOSTAT

A new domain on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has just been released on FAOSTAT. This is intended as the first in a range of services aimed at agri-environmental indicators, to help member countries enhance their capacity to identify, assess and report environmental statistics.

“We are expanding our data services to a wide range of agri-environmental and socio-economic indicators, providing at the same time access to improved analysis tools, including the possibility to compare FAO data to those from other institutions, for instance data from the United States Department of Agriculture”, said Pietro Gennari, Director of the Statistics Division.

At the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) in Durban last year, countries agreed to report their greenhouse gas emissions at least biennially, starting end of 2014.

“It is in this context, and in relation to emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses, that the database can support the needs of FAO member countries”, said Francesco Tubiello, Natural Resources Officer, Climate, Energy and Tenure Division.

The newly added GHG database offers a complete time-series of emission statistics for all countries over the period 1990-2010. It provides countries with vital, regularly updated information to help them consistently identify, assess and report GHG emissions from their agriculture, forestry and other land use sectors, as part of the activity data they already report to FAO.

The emissions estimates are computed from FAOSTAT activity data following the internationally approved methodology for GHG reporting developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Progress made thus far includes a robust technical peer review of the GHG database from dozens of experts at FAO and around the world. The GHG data are now open to the public, facilitating feedback from countries.

FAO Employees and Members at the FAOSTAT side event at FAO Council

FAOSTAT offers free, easy access to data and introduces enhanced features tailored to the information needs of a wide variety of users. These include browsing and analysis of data, advanced interactive data download, cross-domain data search using free-text, and data exchange through web services.

The system is still evolving and users around the world are encouraged to provide comments and suggestions on the functionalities and performance of the new platform through the feedback system.

How to navigate to the Emissions domains in FAOSTAT:
1. Select “Browse Data” from the menu bar on the top of the FAOSTAT page. This opens by default the FAOSTAT domain data page “Production”.
2. Click on “Emissions - Agriculture“ or “Emissions – Land Use“ on the left column to access the FAOSTAT GHG data domain.
3. Select the sub-domain of interest: several graphic representations are displayed by default at global level and averaged over the period 1990-2010.
4. Menus on top of the page allow users to modify the default graphics by choosing a single country, different years of analysis and other options specific to the sub-domain. The new data selections will be displayed in real time on the webpage.

Developing the GHG database

Countries regularly report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all sectors to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU). While developed countries publish detailed emissions accounts every year, many developing countries and especially least-developed countries lack the capacity to assess and report their emission levels, especially for their agricultural sectors. As a result, only a few developing countries have been able to submit GHG emission reports since 1990. In general:

  • There is lack of information on GHG emission levels and trends in AFOLU. While fossil fuel emissions from the energy sector are published yearly by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for all countries, no international agency collects and reports such data regularly for AFOLU.
  • Developing countries—where agriculture forestry and other land uses represent a key component of national economies and a driver for development—have limited capacity to report their GHG data and, as a consequence, not enough visibility in the climate policy debate, limiting their access to climate finance. They will nonetheless need to report their GHG emissions at two-year intervals, starting in 2014.  

FAO has significant potential to fill this information gap. First, through its access to long-term, internationally accepted global data on agricultural activities, FAO is uniquely positioned to develop a coherent GHG database for all AFOLU sectors by country. Second, FAO can act as an impartial institution and honest broker in assessing GHG emissions data, providing its country members with a quality control and quality assurance mechanism in support of national inventory reporting. Third, through the new database FAO can help identify climate responses that are consistent with key rural development objectives of its member countries, supporting actions that ensure food security while preserving natural resources, increasing resilience and creating new employment opportunities.

To this end, while the FAOSTAT Emissions database is not a replacement for UNFCCC reporting requirements, it can provide significant support to FAO member countries along four key dimensions:

  1. providing regular updates of global and regional trends in GHG emissions from AFOLU;
  2. bridging gaps in capacity of member countries in assessing and reporting GHG emissions, considering new requirements under the Durban accords;
  3. establishing a GHG emission benchmark for quality control and quality assurance; and
  4. providing a coherent framework for national-level analysis and dialogue on GHG assessment and gaps.


The Monitoring and Assessment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Mitigation Potential in Agriculture (MAGHG) project is financially supported by Germany and Norway.

last updated:  Tuesday, April 28, 2015