Spatial and temporal variability of greenhouse gas emissions from rural development land use operations

  • J. TzilivakisEmail author
  • D. J. Warner
  • A. Green
  • K. A. Lewis
Original Article


Climate change objectives of mitigation and adaptation are being mainstreamed into many policies and strategies around the world. In Europe, this has included the Rural Development Programme, which aims to tackle multiple social, economic and environmental objectives in rural areas, and the integration of climate change objectives adds another strand of complexity to the decision making process. When formulating policies determining the likely effectiveness of any particular measure can be challenging, especially with respect to the spatial and temporal variability of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a challenge faced by all countries and regions around the world. This study uses Europe as an example to explore this issue. It highlights the variability in emissions from land use operations that may be encountered under different conditions and time horizons and considers this in the context of policy formulation. The Optimal Strategies for Climate change Action in Rural Areas software has been adapted to derive net greenhouse gas emissions for rural development operations for all regions in Europe. Operations have been classified into five categories based on their benefit/burden over different time horizons. The analysis shows that it is important to understand the time period over which benefits or burdens are realised and determine how this fits with policy instruments, such as land management agreements and the permanency of actions. It also shows that in some regions an operation can have benefits, but in other regions it has burdens; thus, location can be critical. Finally, in the context of developing operations to meet multiple social, economic and environmental objectives, it is important to acknowledge that seeking options that only reduce emissions may not always be practical or possible. In some instances, we may have to accept an increase in emissions in order to meet other objectives. It is important that we evaluate the net greenhouse gas emissions of all operations, not just those aimed at climate change mitigation. We can then select those with the least burden in the process of developing optimal solutions to meet multiple objectives.


Greenhouse gas emissions Spatial and temporal variability Rural development Land use 



This work to develop the OSCAR software (used to undertake the analysis herein) was funded by the European Commission (DG Climate Action) (Ref. 071201/2011/609681/SER/CLIMA.A.2). The Commission’s support is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the funding body.


  1. AERU (2013) Optimal design of climate change policies through the EU’s rural development policy. Final Report for project 071201/2011/609681/SER/CLIMA.A.2. Prepared by the Agriculture and Environment Research Unit (AERU), University Hertfordshire, UK. DG Climate Action, European Commission, BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  2. AERU (2014) Optimal Strategies for Climate change Action in Rural areas (OSCAR). Software website: Cited 10 Dec 2014
  3. Arneth A, Brown C, Rounsevell MDA (2014) Global models of human decision-making for land-based mitigation and adaptation assessment. Nat Clim Chang 4:550–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell MJ, Worrall F (2009) Estimating a region’s soil organic carbon baseline: the undervalued role of land management. Geoderma 152:74–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berkhout F, Bouwer L, Bayer J, Bouzid M, Cabeza M, Hanger S, Hof A, Hunter P, Meller L, Patt A, Pfluger B, Rayner T, Reichardt K, van Teeffelen A (2013) European responses to climate change: deep emissions reductions and mainstreaming of mitigation and adaptation. RESPONSES project policy brief. Institute for environmental studies (IvM), vU. University Amsterdam, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradley RI, Milne R, Bell J, Lilly A, Jordan C, Higgins A (2005) A soil carbon and land use database for the United Kingdom. Soil Use Manag 21:363–369CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cannell MGR, Milne R, Hargreaves KJ, Brown TAW, Cruickshank MM, Bradley RI, Spencer T, Hope D, Billet MF, Adger WN, Subak S (1999) National inventories of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks: the UK experience. Clim Chang 42:505–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dawson JJC, Smith P (2007) Carbon losses from soil and its consequences for land-use management. Sci Total Environ 382:165–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dilling L, Lemos MC (2011) Creating usable science: opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. Glob Environ Chang 21(2):680–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dobbie KE, Smith KA (2001) The effects of temperature, water-filled pore space and land use on N2O emissions from an imperfectly drained gleysol. Eur J Soil Sci 52:667–673CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dobbie KE, Smith KA (2003) Nitrous oxide emission factors for agricultural soils in Great Britain: the impact of soil water-filled pore space and other controlling variables. Glob Chang Biol 9:204–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dobbie KE, McTaggart IP, Smith KE (1999) Nitrous oxide emissions from intensive agricultural systems: variations between crops and seasons, key driving variables and mean emission factors. J Geophys Res 104:26891–26899CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Donnellan T, Hanrahan K, Breen JP (2014) Development and application of economic and environmental models of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture: some difficult choices for policy makers. In: Kalogeras N, Mattas K, van Dijk G, Baourakis G (eds) Zopounidis C. Springer International Publishing, Agricultural Cooperative Management and Policy, pp 243–263Google Scholar
  14. EC (2009) The role of European agriculture in climate change mitigation. European Commission (EC) Staff Working Document, European Commission, Brussels, 23 JulyGoogle Scholar
  15. EC (2010) Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Communication from the European Commission (EC), Brussels, 3.3.2010, COM(2010) 2020Google Scholar
  16. EC (2013a) Examples of how to mainstream climate action and the potential for doing so – EAFRD – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development 2014–2020. European Commission (EC), Climate Action. ISBN 978-92-79-30694-5Google Scholar
  17. EC (2013b) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change. European Commission (EC), COM(2013) 216 final, Brussels, 16.4.2013Google Scholar
  18. EEA (2013) Corine Land Cover 2006 raster data. Version 17 (12/2013) - Raster data on land cover for the CLC2006 inventory. European Environment Agency (EEA). Cited 1 Dec 2014
  19. EU (2013) Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005. Off J Eur Union L 347/487, 20.12.2013Google Scholar
  20. Eurostat (2011) Food: from farm to fork statistics. Eurostat pocketbook, 2011th edn. Publications Office of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  21. Falloon P, Powlson D, Smith P (2004) Managing field margins for biodiversity and carbon sequestration: a Great Britain case study. Soil Use Manag 20:240–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Freibauer A (2003) Regionalised inventory of biogenic greenhouse gas emissions from European agriculture. Eur J Agron 19:135–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Friedrich R, Freibauer A, Gallmann E, Giannouli M, Koch D, Peylin P, Pye S, Riviere E, San Jose R, Winiwarter W, Blank P, Kühlwein J, Pregger T, Reis S, Scholz Y, Theloke J, Vabitsch A (2003) Temporal and Spatial Resolution of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Europe. Discussion paper from a workshop in Stuttgart, Deutschland, June 2003, a contribution to the project Concerted Action CarboEurope-GHG, part of the CarboEurope ClusterGoogle Scholar
  24. Glenk K, Colombo S (2011) Designing policies to mitigate the agricultural contribution to climate change: an assessment of soil based carbon sequestration and its ancillary effects. Clim Chang 105(1–2):43–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heller NE, Zavaleta ES (2009) Biodiversity management in the face of climate change: a review of 22 years of recommendations. Biol Conserv 142(1):14–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Houghton RA, House JI, Pongratz J, van der Werf GR, DeFries RS, Hansen MC, Le Quéré C, Ramankutty N (2012) Carbon emissions from land use and land-cover change. Biogeosciences 9:5125–5142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. IIED (2014) A Government Group Network for Climate Change Mainstreaming Into Development Planning. Strategy and Plan for 2014–2015. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). June 2014Google Scholar
  28. Imer D, Eugster MW, Buchmann N (2013) Temporal and spatial variations of soil CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes at three differently managed grasslands. Biogeosciences 10:5931–5945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. IPCC (2006) Generic Methodologies Applicable to Multiple Land-Use Categories. Volume 4, Chapter 2. In: Eggleston HS, Buendia L, Miwa K, Ngara T, Tanabe K (eds) 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Prepared by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), p 2.38Google Scholar
  30. IPCC (2014) In: Pachauri RK, Reisinger A (eds) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Core writing team. IPCC, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  31. King JA, Bradley RI, Harrison R, Carter AD (2004) Carbon sequestration and saving potential associated with changes to the management of agricultural soils in England. Soil Use Manag 20:394–402CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kirkby MJ, Jones RJA., Irvine B, Gobin A, Govers G, Cerdan O, Van Rompaey AJJ, Le Bissonnais Y, Daroussin J, King D, Montanarella L, Grimm M, Vieillefont V, Puigdefabregas J, Boer M, Kosmas C, Yassoglou N, Tsara M, Mantel S, van Lynden GJ, Huting J (2003) Pan-European Soil Erosion Risk Assessment: The PESERA Map. Version 1 October 2003. Explanation of: Special Publication Ispra 2004 No.73 S.P.I.04.73Google Scholar
  33. Klein RJT, Schipper EL, Dessai S (2003) Integrating mitigation and adaptation into climate and development policy: three research questions. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Working Paper 40Google Scholar
  34. Klein RJT, Huq S, Denton F, Downing TE, Richels RG, Robinson JB, Toth FL (2007) Inter-relationships between adaptation and mitigation. Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 745–777Google Scholar
  35. Machefert SE, Dise NB, Goulding KWT, Whitehead PG (2002) Nitrous oxide emission from a range of land uses across Europe. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci 6:325–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Medarova-Bergstrom K, Volkery A (2012) Practical Options for Climate Change Mainstreaming in the 2014–2020 EU Budget. Background document for the workshop on ‘Practical Options for Climate Change Mainstreaming in the 2014–2020 EU Budget’, 1 February 2012, Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), BrusselsGoogle Scholar
  37. OECD (2012) Evaluation of Agri-environmental Policies Selected Methodological Issues and Case Studies. OECD Publishing. ISBN: 926417933X, 9789264179332Google Scholar
  38. Olander L, Wollenberg E, Tubiello F, Herold M (2013) Advancing agricultural greenhouse gas quantification. Environ Res Lett 8(1):1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Olivier JGJ, Janssens-Maenhout G, Muntean M and Peters JAHW (2014) Trends in global CO2 emissions; 2014 Report. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague and European Commission, Joint Research Centre, IspraGoogle Scholar
  40. Ostle NJ, Levy PE, Evans CD, Smith P (2009) UK land use and soil carbon sequestration. Land Use Policy 26:S274–S283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Plieninger T, Schleyer C, Schaich H, Ohnesorge B, Gerdes H, Hernández-Morcillo M, Bieling C (2012) Mainstreaming ecosystem services through reformed European agricultural policies. Conserv Lett 5:281–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Raufer R (2013) External evaluation report development account project ROA 126: integrating climate change into national sustainable development strategies and plans in Latin america and the Caribbean. Report to the United Nations. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  43. Renting H, Rossing WAH, Groot JCJ, Van der Ploeg JD, Laurent C, Perraud D, Stobbelaar DJ, Van Ittersum MK (2009) Exploring multifunctional agriculture. A review of conceptual approaches and prospects for an integrative transitional framework. J Environ Manag 90:S112–S123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rosen RA, Guenther E (2014) The economics of mitigating climate change: what can we know? Technol Forecast Soc Chang. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2014.01.013 Google Scholar
  45. Rounsevell MDA, Arneth A, Brown DG, de Noblet-Ducoudré N, Ellis E, Finnigan J, Galvin K, Grigg N, Harman I, Lennox J, Magliocca N, Parker D, O’Neil B, Verburg PH, Young O (2012). Incorporating human behaviour and decision making processes in land use and climate system models. GLP Report No. 7. GLP-IPO, São José dos CamposGoogle Scholar
  46. Schulp CJE, Naubuurs G, Verburg PH (2008) Future carbon sequestration in Europe—effects of land use change. Agric Ecosyst Environ 127(3–4):251–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smith KA, Conen F (2004) Impacts of land management on fluxes of trace greenhouse gases. Soil Use Manag 20:255–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Smith P, Bustamante M, Ahammad H, Clark H, Dong H, Elsiddig EA, Haberl H, Harper R, House J, Jafari M, Masera O, Mbow C, Ravindranath NH, Rice CW, Robledo Abad C, Romanovskaya A, Sperling F, Tubiello F (2014) Agriculture, forestry and other land Use (AFOLU). In: Edenhofer O, Pichs-Madruga R, Sokona Y, Farahani E, Kadner S, Seyboth K, Adler A, Baum I, Brunner S, Eickemeier P, Kriemann B, Savolainen J, Schlömer S, von Stechow C, Zwickel T, Minx JC (eds) Climate change 2014: mitigation of climate change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USAGoogle Scholar
  49. Tzilivakis J, Warner D, Green A, Lewis KA (2013) Adapting to climate change: assessing the vulnerability of ecosystem services in Europe in the context of rural development. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 20:547–572. doi: 10.1007/s11027-013-9507-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tzilivakis J, Green A, Lewis KA, Warner D (2014) Identifying integrated options for agricultural climate change mitigation. Int J Climate Change Strateg Manag 6(02):192–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Van Der Ploeg JD, Renting H, Brunori G, Knickel K, Mannion J, Marsden T, De Roest K, Sevilla-Guzmán E, Ventura F (2000) Rural development: from practices and policies towards theory. Sociol Rural 40:391–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Huylenbroeck G, Durand G (eds) (2003) Multifunctional agriculture: a new paradigm for European agriculture. Ashgate Publishing, BurlingtonGoogle Scholar
  53. VijayaVenkataRaman S, Iniyan S, Goic R (2012) A review of climate change, mitigation and adaptation. Renew Sust Energ Rev 16:878–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Tzilivakis
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. J. Warner
    • 1
  • A. Green
    • 1
  • K. A. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.Agriculture and Environment Research Unit (AERU), School of Life and Medical SciencesUniversity of HertfordshireHatfieldUK

Personalised recommendations