ILRI Mitigation in livestock systems and LED pathways

Identifying low emissions development pathways includes global and regional analyses. (Image from Kleinwechter 2015 presentation).

Project description

CCAFS is working together with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to identify low emissions agricultural pathways and priorities for climate change mitigation in agricultural landscapes using integrated assessment modelling (the Global Biosphere Management Model - GLOBIOM) and scenarios. 

The most significant sources of GHG emissions and mitigation potentials (considering carbon removals and avoided future emissions) from agriculture and land-use sectors have been identified. However, in many cases the impact of low emissions development (LED) on food production, livelihoods and equity – in short on trade-offs – is still being studied. Considerations and analysis of LED trade-offs and benefits involving protection and growth of food security and livelihoods include gender. This project informs decision-makers to ensure that LED is achieved while protecting food security and livelihoods and increasing gender equity. All results are resources for national decision-making and investment in evidence-based LED pathways and agricultural development. 

In 2013 and 2014, the project focused on calculating the extent of agricultural mitigation necessary in developing countries and the effect of selected emissions floors on meeting future climate target thresholds. In 2015, the team conducted a spatial analysis of mitigation priorities globally for selected policy pathways. In 2015 and 2016, the project determined a target for agricultural mitigation and assessed the necessity of mitigation globally and regionally in the agriculture sector. 

The project contributed to development of a new set of scenarios along the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs) and the GHG mitigation dimension represented by the Representative Concentration Pathways (Fricko et al. 2016). These scenarios show the role agriculture has to play in climate change stabilization, and they are likely to become the backbone of the climate assessments for the next decades. Related results show that, at least in the medium term, the effects of GHG mitigation could be worse in terms of food availability than the effects of climate change itself if policies are not carefully designed.

The project has also examined mitigation potentials in agricultural sector and which policies could avoid the trade-offs between climate change mitigation and food availability. Policy makers will find useful information about which mitigation options have the largest economic mitigation potential in which region. International negotiations will benefit from the insights in country typology which in particular allows to identify countries key to influencing global climate change. Finally, soil organic carbon sequestration as a win-win-win option for climate-smart agriculture has been assessed again in view of its potential to reduce the trade-offs between mitigation and development. These insights allow for a more balanced consideration of the agricultural sector in future international climate agreements and in the design of national policies. Publications on these topics are forthcoming.

The modeling community is benefitting from new detailed marginal abatement cost curves, which now cover all three important mitigation wedges - technological solutions, structural change and demand side adjustments – in a consistent way. 

The project also contributed to the improvement of the GLOBIOM model through inclusion of updated mitigation options, including data from the U.S. EPA, the soil organic carbon representation, and new food security indicators. This allows more widespread use of GLOBIOM by policy makers for national mitigation strategies development. Current users include Brazil, Cameroon, Denmark, Democratic Republic of Congo, European Union (EC), the United Kingdom, and the United States.



Frank S, Gavlík P, Forsell N, Valin G, Levesque A et al. 2016. Regional participation to meet climate targets: Managing trade-offs with food security. Presentation at SBSTA 44.

Wollenberg E, Richards M, Havlik P, Smith P, Tubiello F, Carter S. Herold M. 2015. Will sustainable intensification help us avoid exceeding 2 degreed C? Presentation from the Global Science Conference for Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015, Montpellier, France.
Kleinwechter U, Havlík P, Forsell N, Gusti M, Zhang YW, Oliver Fricko, Keywan Riahi, Michael Obersteiner. 2015. Assessing low emissions development pathways for the agricultural and land use sector. Presentation from Our Common Future under Climate Change Conference 2015, Paris, France.
Havlík P, Forsell N, Zhang YW, Kleinwechter U, Fricko O, Riahi K, Obersteiner M. 2014. Regional Development versus Global Mitigation: Insights from GLOBIOM. Presentation from 7th Annual IAMC Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, 17 November.
Kleinwechter U. 2014. Agriculture and Forest Sector Long-Term Outlook from GLOBIOM. Presentation at the Strategic Foresight Conference at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, 7 November.


IIASA conducts research with funding from CCAFS. This project also received support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from October 2015-December 2016.

Further information

Sadie Shelton (

Project Activities

Compile and analyse spatially explicit (local to national) activities (systems, land use, feed/biomass, emissions) and socio-economic data from downscaled global data sets, national statistical information and CGIAR databases,and quantify uncertainties to set targets for emissions reduction and to guide measurements. Assess potential to scale out mitigation interventions, informed by technical, economic, institutional issues, aligning with interventions to national LED pathways.

Use the SAMPLES protocol to address uncertainties in the GHG estimates from livestock production through measurement of fluxes, biomass flows, manure management, feed quality, livestock numbers and land use.

Assess social organization and institutional (including economic) incentives of current smallholder and value chain activities in livestock systems across geography and livelihood diversity and gender, complementing the information from activity 2. Using ethnographic methods, empirically document and analyze the mechanisms that link incentive structures and individual behaviour along value chains.

Project Deliverables

  • Synthesis of current data and estimate uncertainties in livestock systems with potential for emissions reductions.