Farming: Climate change

Farming practices, livestock, and clearing of land for agriculture are significant contributors to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
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Ploughing releases greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
© Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon

Multiple sources of emissions

Agricultural practices are responsible for around 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions1. Sources include fertilizers, livestock, wetland rice cultivation, manure management, burning of savanna and agricultural residues, and ploughing.

For example, rice production is one of the single-largest producers of methane, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently stated that the livestock sector alone is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas production.

In addition, the conversion of forests to agriculture – particularly in tropical Asia – accounts for a roughly similar percentage of greenhouse gas emissions as agriculture itself2.


1. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [Core Writing Team, Pachauri, R.K and Reisinger, A.(eds.)]. IPCC
2. WBCSD/IUCN (2008) Agricultural Ecosystems – Facts and Trends 

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