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Lack of greenhouse emissions data ‘demands action’
  • Lack of greenhouse emissions data ‘demands action’

Copyright: Flickr/CGIAR Climate

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  • Africa relies on estimates of greenhouse gas emissions rather than actual data

  • A project in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda aims to create emissions data

  • Experts say such data could empower policymakers and smallholder farmers

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[NAIROBI] African countries are lagging behind in creating credible and up-to-date greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories as nearly all of them lack accurate data on the emissions that they produce, say scientists during a field tour of western Kenya last month (8 November).
 
Most African countries have failed to meet the requirements on collecting and submitting updated data on emissions as set out by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), to which they are all signatories.
 
The absence of such data, therefore, means that emissions produced by Africa —estimated at less than 1 per cent — are inaccurate, says James Kinyangi, regional leader for East Africa of the CGIAR’s research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security  (CCAFS).

“Figures placing emissions levels at around 0.3 per cent of all harmful gases coming from Africa may therefore not be correct, necessitating deliberate action to sample them across different agriculture ecosystems.”

James Kinyangi, CGIAR’s research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

 
The convention, which is responsible for keeping data on GHG global levels, demands that it receives from countries regularly measured GHG emission levels produced by both agriculture and other industries.
 
Kinyangi tells SciDev.Net: “Figures placing emissions levels at around 0.3 per cent of all harmful gases coming from Africa may therefore not be correct, necessitating deliberate action to sample them across different agriculture ecosystems”.
 
Kinyangi notes that many African countries lack data and reference point on exact levels of emissions, so they cannot set reduction targets.
 
The CCAFS project collects data in agriculture across Africa and other developing regions to help the capacity of governments to build credible national inventories on emissions, according to Mariana Rufino, a Kenya-based senior scientist of CCAFS.
 
Rufino adds: “We believe that by building inventories on emission levels, governments in Africa will be able to strengthen their negotiating capacity at international climate forums and move negotiations from adaptation to research-based mitigation”.
 
With many smallholder farmers in Africa, Asia and Latin America practising agriculture under intensified farming systems, their activities continue to produce methane, nitrous oxide and carbon, which affect soils leading to reduced productivity, she notes.
 
The project is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Maseno University in western Kenya is partnering CCAFS in collecting and analysing samples.
 
Rachel Kyte, World Bank vice-president for sustainable development, praises the project.
 
“Collecting emissions data at the farm level as CCAFS is doing is innovative and important. The data collected can inform and improve decision-making from the farm to national and global levels,” she says.
 
Kyte adds that the initiative is encouraging because it brings scientific research and knowledge conceived at global levels and high-end laboratories to smallholder farmers.
 
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.
 
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