Identifying cost-competitive greenhouse gas mitigation potential of French agriculture

S Pellerin, L Bamiere, D Angers, F Beline, M Benoit, J-P Butault, C Chenu, C Colnenne-David, S De Cara, N Delame, M Doreau, P Dupraz, P Faverdin, F Garcia-Launay, M Hassouna, C Henault, M-H Jeuffroy, K Klumpp, A Metay, D MoranS Recous, E Samson, I Savini, L Pardon, P Chemineau

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The agriculture, forestry and other land use sector is responsible for 24% (10-12 Pg CO2e per year) of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, with concomitant opportunities for mitigation. A scientific panel used deliberative methods to identify ten technical measures comprising 26 sub-measures to reduce GHG emissions from agriculture in France. Their abatement potential and cost are compared. The proposed measures concern nitrogen (N) management, management practices that increase carbon stocks in soils and biomass, livestock diets, and energy production and consumption on farms. Results show that the total abatement potential can be divided into three parts. One third of the cumulated abatement potential corresponds to sub-measures that can be implemented at a negative technical cost. These sub-measures focus on increased efficiency in input use including N fertilisers, animal feed and energy. The second third are sub-measures with moderate cost (< €25 per metric Mg of avoided CO2e). These sub-measures require specific investments or changes to cropping systems, but additional costs or lower incomes are partially compensated for by a reduction in other costs or by the production of other marketable products. The remaining third are high-cost sub-measures (> €25 per metric Mg of avoided CO2e). These require investment with no direct financial return, the purchase of particular inputs, dedicated labour time or involve production losses. Assuming additivity, the cumulated abatement is 32.3 Tg CO2e per year in 2030, but only 10 Tg (i.e. 10% of current agricultural emissions) when calculated under current inventory rules. This study confirms that a significant abatement potential exists in the agricultural sector, with two thirds of this potential at low or even negative cost. This is likely to be an underestimated as it is based on a status quo of the current agricultural system. Results also emphasise the need to upgrade inventory rules so that efforts to reduce emissions can be accounted for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130 - 139
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
Early online date1 Sept 2017
Publication statusFirst published - 1 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note



  • Agriculture
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Marginal abatement costs
  • Mitigation measures


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