EGU21-7959, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A land-based approach for climate change mitigation in the livestock sector

Maria Vincenza Chiriacò1 and Riccardo Valentini1,2
Maria Vincenza Chiriacò and Riccardo Valentini
  • 1CMCC Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change, IAFES Division, Viterbo, Italy (
  • 2University of Tuscia, Dept. DIBAF, Viterbo, Italy

The land sector plays a crucial role in the context of climate change, being both a contributor to the problem and part of its solution. On one side, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land uses (AFOLU sector) cover the 24% of global emissions, representing the second hot spot in the contribution to climate change after the energy sector. On the other side, this sector offers the exclusive capacity to remove atmospheric carbon dioxide and store it in soils and biomass.

The challenge is to understand the extent to which sustainable land management can be a valuable solution to increase the mitigation potential of the land sector, particularly at small-scale rural landscape level. A land-based approach is developed and tested for application at small-scale rural landscape level, aiming at reducing and offsetting GHG emissions from the livestock activities, one of the main sources of GHG emissions of the whole agricultural sector. The proposed land-based approach builds on an ensemble of methodologies, including Geographic Information System (GIS) elaboration, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and methodologies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that allow estimating livestock GHG emissions and the mitigation potential of sustainable land-use options applied in the same small-scale rural landscape (e.g. improvement of ruminants’ diet, biogas from manure, reduction of synthetic fertilizers, minimum/no-tillage, natural herbaceous cover, reuse of agricultural residues, new orchards and forests on marginal lands).

Results from a case study in Italy show that land-based mitigation options applied at small-scale rural landscape level can reduce and completely offset the GHG livestock emissions of the same area, leading to carbon neutral livestock systems, in line with the objectives of the EU Green Deal and the global climate commitments. Thus, this study confirms that the land sector can strongly contribute to climate change mitigation if sustainable land-use options are applied. Moreover, when sustainable land-use options are applied with a proximity approach in a small-scale, the results are not limited to the carbon neutrality of the livestock production but involve also other tangible environmental and socio-economic benefits in the territory (e.g. sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection, water and air quality, new green areas, tourism, well-being etc.). 

A such sustainable land-based approach can be applied to all food systems (not only livestock) and can be scaled at global level involving an infinite number of districts (organized at local, regional or national level) with the potential to influence globally the food production toward a sustainable model of the whole land sector. The implementation of a such sustainable land management aiming to a carbon neutral food production can be supported at public policies level, under the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Carbon Farming schemes, but also by the private sector in the framework of voluntary carbon mechanisms.   

How to cite: Chiriacò, M. V. and Valentini, R.: A land-based approach for climate change mitigation in the livestock sector, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7959,, 2021.

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