International Project

Quantifying Agricultural Greenhouse Gases in Developing Countries


To support the development of simple, low cost methods for the quantification of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and removals at national and project scales to support enhanced management for mitigation and track performance for national planning, international financing, voluntary markets, regulatory markets, and supply chain initiatives.

Sponsoring and hosting organizations

The Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability at Duke University, with support from The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is partnering on this project with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), a research program of the CGIAR; The University of Vermont; the World Agroforestry Centre, Earth System Science Partnership; and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.


Feeding the world sustainably requires balancing a growing population's food and nutritional needs while limiting the greenhouse gases released by agriculture, a growing contributor to climate change. In a new special issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters, Lydia Olander, Ecosystem Services Program director at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, and others tackle the topic. The journal issue explores the current state of greenhouse gas quantification methods, the potential for improving these methods and proposes new ideas for policy makers in developing countries. Olander served as a guest editor of the issue and author of one of the eight pieces in the edition.


A workshop was hosted by the FAO in Rome, Italy from April 18-19, 2012 to address this scientific gap by advancing synthesis and new approaches for the quantification of agricultural greenhouse gases in low-income contexts. CCAFS, Duke and FAO have commissioned 12 articles for a special issue of Environmental Review Letters (ERL) to identify gaps, explore new and innovative tools, methods or approaches appropriate for limited resource conditions, and prioritize actions. The workshop brought together the authors of these articles, regional scientists and others to critically review and exchange ideas about initial ideas for these articles and a synthesis.

Special Issue

Ideas explored at the workshop and new work on related topics by a wide range of experts are now published in a new special issue of Environmental Research Letters, a high impact open source journal. Together, the articles in this special issue provide a vision for an improved system for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture, with special attention to the needs of smallholder agriculture in developing countries. The issue is sponsored by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. Lydia Olander, director of the Nicholas Institute's Ecosystem Services Program, was a guest editor of the issue and author of one of the articles in the journal.


Project Steering Group

  • Lydia Olander, coordinator
  • Lini Wollenberg, coordinator
  • Christina Seeberg Elverfeldt, coordinator
  • Francesco Tubiello, Natural Resources Officer (climate change mitigation) FAO
  • Mario Herrero, Program Leader, Sustainable Livestock Futures, International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya
  • Keith Paustian, Professor of Soil Ecology, Colorado State University, USA
  • Pierre Gerber, Livestock Policy Officer, Animal Production and Health Division, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, FAO
  • Pramod Kumar Agarwal, Regional Program Leader CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) International Water Management Institute, NASC Complex, India
  • Hayden Montgomery, Special Advisor for the Global Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases and lead negotiator for LULUCF in UNFCCC, New Zealand
  • Elly Baroudy, The BioCarbon Fund, World Bank
  • Martin Herold, Professor Remote Sensing, GOFC-GOLD,  Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Magda Lima Embrapa, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, Brazil.
  • Michael Obersteiner, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Additional Advisors

  • Chuck Rice, University Distinguished Professor of Soil Microbiology, Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University (T-AGG team)
  • Robert Jackson, Chair of Global Environmental Change at the Nicholas School and Professor in the Biology Department, Duke University (T-AGG team)
  • William Salas, President and Chief Scientist, Applied Geosolutions, Inc.


Regional Working Groups

CCAFS will support the development of regional working groups to help with capacity building, knowledge sharing and understanding regional application of methods and approaches. They are currently targeting representatives from East Africa, West Africa and South Asia. Members of regional working groups would be invited to attend this quantification workshop and an additional one-day meeting to explore the potential for building regional working groups and providing nodal points on quantification in developing countries. At the one-day meeting representatives would discuss how to build regional groups and the activities that they would like to conduct in the coming year. This meeting would include a representative from the working group initiative in the United States to share their model.