Mapping Indian agricultural emissions: Lessons for food system transformation and policy support for climate-smart agriculture

Nirmal Kumar Patra, Suresh Chandra Babu
ifpri discussion paper

The recently signed Paris Agreement is one of the most promising steps toward addressing the challenges of climate change and global warming. The agreement came into force in November 2016, and India is a party to it. Two key obligations of each ratifying country under the agreement are the immediate start of mitigation initiatives by the country and the development of a five-year plan of mitigation initiatives. The creation of a database of all subsectors responsible for emissions is needed to start the mitigation activities and to prepare a five-year mitigation plan. The key actors responsible for emissions are industry, transport, and agriculture. The Indian economy is predominantly agricultural, and the agricultural sector is a major driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Currently, there is no comprehensive database to support the policy and intervention process relating to climate change. This paper is an attempt to provide a guide for database creation and the development of a district-level database on emissions from agriculture in India. In this study, all the Indian districts are categorized based on their level of GHG emissions from agriculture and its subsectors, which are denoted by the Emission Index (EI) and Emission Values (EVs), respectively. Districts having “extremely alarming” EIs and EVs should be considered a priority in mitigation initiatives and in the five-year mitigation plan. The study shows that the livestock subsector plays a major role in Indian agricultural emissions scenarios, and increasing the productivity of the agricultural sector remains the best mitigation option for reducing the emission of GHGs from agriculture. The paper also proposes a food system transformation pathway from climate vulnerable to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and a mitigation strategy with technical, institutional, and policy interventions.