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NZAGRC-PGgRc newsletter: edition 5
Edition 5 of the NZAGRC-PGgRc newsletter is available now. Click here to read
FACCE ERA-NET ERA-GAS call
ERA-NET for Monitoring and Mitigation of Greenhouse gases from Agri- and Silvi-culture (ERA-GAS) call for proposals is open. ERA-GAS aims to strengthen the transnational coordination of research activities and provide added value to research and innovation on GHG mitigation. The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is 3 May 2016, 14:00 CET.
You can find more information at http://www.faccejpi.com/FACCE-Joint-activities/ERA-GAS/ERA-GAS-Call-is-openNew
New Zealand is a partner in the call and funding is available for New Zealand researchers to participate. Information about New Zealand participation in the call can be found at http://archive.mpi.govt.nz/environment-natural-resources/climate-change/research-and-funded-projects/nz-participation-in-the-european-era-gas-research
New Zealand researchers who are interested in participating in proposals are encouraged to contact the NZAGRC to discuss the process and ask questions.
Outcomes from the meetings of the Livestock Research Group and Integrative Research Group
Over fifty people attended the recent meeting of the Livestock Research Group in Melbourne, Australia recently. This was the eighth meeting for the group, held 19-20 February 2016 immediately following the international Greenhouse Gas & Animal Agriculture (GGAA) conference. It also encompassed a joint meeting with the GRA's newly formed Integrative Research Group (IRG).
Representation spanned the globe, including two new observers from Tanzania and Uganda, and several key LRG partners - CCAFS, FAO and the World Bank. The meeting traversed the full range of the LRG's work plan.
Current research landscape
Countries were interested in learning more about each other's domestic research in support of the GRA's ambitions, and also about existing capability building projects, programmes and funding mechanisms, including where GHG emissions may not be the primary focus but where this could be added as a component (e.g. livestock productivity and development). A good reference point for this information is the country-specific web pages available in the community section of the GRA website - countries were encouraged to update their pages via the Secretariat.
Continuing with capability building, the meeting agreed a central theme for the LRG's efforts in this area during 2016 and beyond: Helping countries move towards Tier 2 GHG inventories and designing improved measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) systems for livestock GHGs.
As the year unfolds, the LRG will look to its partnerships with other key organisations working in this area to prioritise and develop a programme of activity in this growing area of interest. Opportunities exist with CCAFS and the World Bank to strengthen tools, training and processes for countries to measure, report and verify their livestock GHG emissions and to improve how national GHG inventories capture information on gains in livestock productivity. The LRG will also work with CCAFS to compile existing capability building materials on livestock GHG research into an open access information platform.
The LRG's flagship capability building project (partnering with FAO and drawing on funding from the Climate & Clean Air Coalition and the New Zealand Government), ‘Reducing enteric methane for improving food security and livelihoods' was discussed as stage 1 of this initiative is scheduled to come to an end during 2016. Stage 1 has focused on identifying and prioritising high potential areas for mitigation in ruminant livestock production systems in various regions, aiming to design cost-effective technical ‘intervention packages' that can deliver multiple benefits on farms. The meeting agreed the importance of pursuing a second stage for the project, which would see the intervention packages tested on farms and scaled up for widespread implementation.
Collaborative research / Research networks and databases
A core focus of the LRG's meeting agenda was the work of the research networks with a dynamic breakout group session to discuss their recent achievements and hear their ideas for priority collaborative research during 2016 and beyond, along with identifying possible funding mechanisms to support this future work (including ERA-GAS call).
In addition, the meeting received an update on the development of a regional network for Mediterranean countries, led by Italy. This will focus initially on a multidisciplinary approach to water resources and quality, mycotoxins in feed, heat stress tolerances and vector borne diseases. Countries interested in being involved should contact Giacomo Pirlo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Good practice guidance and methodologies
The LRG's Manure Management Network indicated that it would like to review the existing N2O Chamber Methodology Guidelines and update and expand them as necessary.
Policy support and links to international initiatives
Interest was expressed in translating the very popular joint LRG and SAI-Platform industry publication, ‘Reducing GHG emissions from livestock: best practice and emerging options', into other languages. We are hoping that this may soon be available in French, Spanish and possibly Thai. The LRG will also work with the SAI-Platform to hold joint seminars in various regions that extend on that publication, showcasing industry/science partnerships that are already reducing the emissions intensity of livestock production.
An opportunity was identified for the LRG to assist the World Bank in developing a programme to guide investors to large-scale implementation of sustainable livestock, including addressing emissions intensity. Opportunities for increased engagement with the FAO were also identified, including via the Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock (GASL) and the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership. The meeting also received a demonstration of the new FAO tool to support countries tackling climate change through livestock production, GLEAM-i, which enables governments, industry, producers and others to calculate emissions and emissions reductions from various interventions using Tier 2 inventory methods.
The next meeting of the LRG will be held in Washington DC, USA in April 2017. More details will be sent towards the end of this year.
Joint discussions with the Integrative Research Group
A core part of this year's LRG meeting was a joint meeting with the GRA's newly formed IRG. This group was agreed at the 2015 GRA Council meeting as a merger of the previous two cross-cutting groups on soil C and N cycling, and inventories and monitoring issues. The joint meeting was co-chaired by Australia, Canada and France as the Co-chairs of the IRG.
The IRG Co-chairs outlined the scope of the new group as being focused on the estimation, monitoring and projection of GHG emissions within and across agricultural systems. Its activities will centre around a series of networks on different integrative issues across the GRA:
- Grasslands network: transfers and builds on the existing LRG network
- Soil carbon sequestration network: new, but builds on work started across the GRA
- Field scale modelling network: builds on existing work from the former Soil C & N Cross-Cutting Group
- Farm scale and regional modelling network: new, but builds on work started across the GRA
- GHG inventories network: builds on existing work from the former Inventories & Monitoring Cross-Cutting Group
The joint meeting identified possible short and longer-term activities for these network, including a potential connection with the French 4‰ Initiative on soil carbon for food security and climate change. The IRG Co-chairs underscored the importance of identifying key audiences and end users for the group's work and of packaging their outputs appropriately. This point was picked up throughout the wider LRG meeting as well.
PICK OF THE COP: KEY OUTCOMES OF THE PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE
History was made on 12 December 2015, when the gavel went down on a new global climate change agreement at the 21st UN climate change conference (COP 21) in Paris. For the first time in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) two-decade history, all governments have agreed to act on climate change, and all will transition to a low carbon economy over the course of this century.
The UNFCCC's biggest stumbling block has been its approach that placed legal obligations only on developed countries (OECD members in 1990) to reduce emissions, while the rest of the world took voluntary action. Under the Paris Agreement, the playing field is now level for developed and developing countries, though the former will continue to provide financial and capacity-building support to help the developing world reduce emissions and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
The new agreement represents a shift from imposed burden-sharing to a vision combining global rules with action to be determined by each country, in line with its national circumstances. This combination sets up a kind of bounded flexibility. Everyone is to take action on emissions, plan for adaptation, apply agreed methodologies and accounting approaches, report and be reviewed on their progress, and will commit to increasingly ambitious targets. . But each country decides for itself how much it can do.
By the time we got to Paris, 189 governments had tabled their intended post-2020 contributions. You can count the number of non-submitters on the fingers of one hand, so this is a real game-changer. The majority of countries' intended contributions (and all those from developed countries) are economy-wide, though many developing countries submitted targets to reduce the emissions-intensity of their economies (i.e. bending the growth curve) and/or made their contributions at least partly conditional on finance.
Unsurprisingly, given the political sensitivity of discussions in the UNFCCC, agriculture is neither treated differently from other sectors, nor excluded from the Paris Agreement. There are two key aspects to the deal. First, an expectation that governments will move over time to economy-wide absolute emissions reduction targets (and not slip back to sector-specific targets). Second, there are explicit references to the importance of food security and the need to ensure food production isn't compromised, appearing in both the preamble and Article 2 of the Agreement.
The accounting approaches to apply for second and subsequent national contributions will be elaborated before the agreement enters into effect in 2020. But COP 21 clarified that countries will be able to draw on existing accounting guidelines - meaning either those spelled out under the UNFCCC or (as New Zealand uses) its Kyoto Protocol.
This outcome opens the door for a multilateral conversation on agriculture - one we started in the lead-up to and at COP 21. We'll take the lead in looking for opportunities to discuss how these twin objectives - of not limiting food production and at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions - can sensibly be met. The next opportunity is a series of UNFCCC technical workshops, beginning in May.
A work programme, laid out in Paris, will put flesh on the bones of the 11-page Paris Agreement by elaborating a plethora of rules, guidelines and procedures before 2020. For New Zealand, Paris was the best outcome we could have hoped for - especially with a substantial provision and work programme on carbon markets. The agreement creates a new frontier, but there's plenty of negotiation to keep us busy so we're all well-prepared for its implementation.
Providing funding to students and early career scientists to increase capability in the agricultural greenhouse gas emissions mitigation research area and boost international collaboration is a key activity for the NZAGRC.
The NZAGRC nitrous oxide team was joined by two new PhD students in 2015 and they are both now well underway with their studies.
Sheree Balvert has been fascinated by farming from a very young age. She was raised on a dairy farm in the Lake Rotorua catchment area and this led her into the study of fresh water ecology for her Honours and Master's degrees. A realisation that research earlier in the farming process may have more of an impact overall led her to a change of direction after completing her study. "Looking at water sometimes felt like being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff", says Sheree. "The damage had already been done. By moving to research which focussed on on-farm processes, I felt I could be more effective".
About 10 years ago, Sheree took up a technician role at AgResearch's Ruakura campus. Her focus was soil science and nitrogen loss mitigation. Interested in developing her career further, when an NZAGRC PhD project became available in 2015, she decided to resign from her job and move back to study. Sheree feels that she's initially had it easier than some PhD students. "I'm continuing to study in the area that I worked in", she says. "However, I've still had to learn a whole lot more in a very short space of time".
Sheree's PhD project involves studying a diverse range of forages, their influence on the nitrogen cycle and the loss of N from farm systems. She has a particular interest in brassicas. "My goal is that by understanding the effects of different forages, I can provide farmers with another tool to help them to reduce their environmental impact", says Sheree. She has just completed a laboratory study assessing the impacts of selected compounds from brassicas on the soil nitrogen cycle and their potential for reducing nitrogen leaching. The next step is to take the promising compounds forward into a field trial.
Outside of her study, Sheree has a love of getting active in the great NZ outdoors. Whilst she's reluctant to call them "adventure" sports, she is a keen scuba-diver, white water kayaker and snow-boarder. One impact of the move back to student life is that, for the foreseeable future, skiing trips will be confined to the North Island. "New Zealand is a fantastic place to work and play", says Sheree. "I guess that's what keeps me here".
This publication summaries the NZAGRC annual report 2014/15.
NZAGRC-PGgRc Newsletter: edition 3
Edition 3 of the NZAGRC-PGgRc newsletter is available now. Click here to read
NZAGRC-PGgRc Newsletter: edition 2
Edition 2 of the NZAGRC-PGgRc newsletter is available now.
Annual Report 2013
Annual Report 2014
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NZAGRC-PGgRc Newsletter: edition 1
The first joint newsletter of the NZAGRC-PGgRc is available now.
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View the online flip-book here
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Annual Report 2012
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Annual Report 2011
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2010 science publications
Kelliher, F. M., & Clark, H. (2010). Methane emissions from bison-An historic herd estimate for the North American Great Plains. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 150(3), 473-477. [Link to full text]
Reisinger, A., Meinshausen, M., Manning, M., & Bodeker, G. (2010). Uncertainties of global warming metrics: CO2 and CH4. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37(14), L14707. [Link to full text]
Schott, C., Reisinger, A., & Milfont, T. (2010). Tourism and climate change: interrelationships and implications. In J. Jafari & L. A. Cai (Eds.), Tourism and the implications of Climate Change: Issues and Actions. New Delhi, India: Emerald.
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