A comparison of policies to reduce the methane emission intensity of smallholder dairy production in India

York, L and Heffernan, C and Rymer, C (2017) A comparison of policies to reduce the methane emission intensity of smallholder dairy production in India. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 246. pp. 78-85.

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Within the dairy sector, the effects of climate change are particularly diverse as cows are affected by, and a significant contributor to climate change. With a burgeoning body of work indicating the importance of livestock’s contribution to climate change (via Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions), the dairy sector will increasingly be targeted for emission reduction. Yet, gaps in knowledge remain as to the effectiveness of interventions in achieving emission reductions. The investigation examines two high-profile Indian policies to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing the methane emission intensity of milk production in Odisha, India. Selected policies included the installation of smallscale anaerobic digesters and the control of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). The interventions were evaluated at the cow level informed by data collected from 115 smallholder dairy producers in Puri (n = 31) and Khurda (n = 84) districts in Odisha, India. The installation of an anaerobic digester was found to increase methane emission intensity by 4.41–5.01%. Control of FMD reduced methane emission intensity by 3.68–12.95% depending on the infection scenario considered. The findings highlight the importance of contextually relevant and multi-sectoral approaches to mitigation as the increase in methane emission intensity following anaerobic digester installation represents movement of emissions from the energy sector into the dairy sector where mitigation is inherently more complex. Thus, the long-term usefulness of anaerobic digester installation as a mitigation strategy is limited.

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