Press releases

Climate science for agriculture and forestry: Setting emissions targets to stay below 2°C

Published: 01/07/2015

Utrecht/Aberdeen, 01 July 2015 – In a new research effort, a Dutch-British consortium is developing a methodology enabling producers of agricultural and forestry goods to align their production with what is required to limit global warming to 2°C. The University of Aberdeen, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Ecofys have teamed up to build a robust methodology for smart climate agricultural solutions at the lowest cost. The research is funded by the Danish KR Foundation and will run until May next year. 

The results of the assessment will help companies who produce agricultural and forestry goods, to determine a fair share of emission reductions and to make their own operations and supply chain truly sustainable. The agriculture and forestry sectors account for around 25 percent of global GHG emissions according to latest IPCC findings.

Giel Linthorst, project manager at Ecofys explains: “With a growing population, the greenhouse gas emissions from these sectors are expected to even increase while these sectors suffer the most from climate change. Thus, enhanced climate action is probably more important than for any other sector.”

Science-based approach

By combining the expertise of the partners in the fields of agriculture and forestry, climate change modelling, and corporate target-setting, this research project is aiming for a robust methodology in line with the so-called ‘Sectoral Decarbonization Approach’. “We want to help companies in the agricultural and forestry sectors to reduce their climate impacts, and developing this methodology will help them to do that”, said Prof Pete Smith of the University of Aberdeen.  The approach suggested by the Science Based Targets initiative of CDP, UN Global Compact, WRI and WWF calls on businesses to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with climate science. The methodology will also allow NGOs and policy makers to benchmark the targets and actions for agriculture and forestry sector. ‘The results of climate research often concentrate on national and international decision-makers by providing information on emission targets at the global and national level. The ‘Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach’, in addition, aims to link global scenarios to the level of sectors and products providing the option to involve other actors in climate action.”, says prof. Detlef van Vuuren.

Call for contributions

The consortium will focus on key agriculture and forestry goods and develop emissions intensity pathways towards the year 2050. To do this, the team will assess the current emissions, abatement potentials and costs of climate smart agricultural solutions per commodity and model this in an integrated scenario to stay below 2°C at the lowest cost.

In order to increase the quality and adoption of the resulting methodology, the partners are looking for companies, NGOs, and experts that are interested in participating in two stakeholders sessions, in September 2015 and February 2016. Those interested, can respond to Giel Linthorst at

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More on the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach at

Ecofys – Experts in Energy
Established in 1984 with the mission of achieving “sustainable energy for everyone”, Ecofys has become the leading expert in renewable energy, energy & carbon efficiency, energy systems & markets as well as energy & climate policy. The unique synergy between those areas of expertise is the key to its success. Ecofys creates smart, effective, practical and sustainable solutions for and with public and corporate clients all over the world. With offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the US, Ecofys employs over 250 experts dedicated to solving energy and climate challenges.

About PBL
PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency is the national institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of the environment, nature and spatial planning. PBL contributes to international research on global environmental change using the integrated assessment model IMAGE. IMAGE can be used to develop different scenarios of future energy and land use and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Prof. Detlef van Vuuren is a senior researcher in the IMAGE team and has been contributed as Lead Author to both Working Group III (Mitigation) and the Synthesis Report. He has published more than 190 articles in peer reviewed journals on climate change. 

University of Aberdeen
The University of Aberdeen is a premier research university in the UK, established in 1495. Prof Pete Smith’s team was in the unit ranked top in the UK in the last Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF2014). Prof. Smith led the agriculture, forestry and other land use chapter in the recent IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and has expertise in greenhouse gas emissions and climate mitigation in the agriculture and forestry sectors. He has been involved in the development of tools, such as the Cool Farm Tool, to allow agri-food companies to reduce their climate impact, and wants to make science accessible to effect real world change.

For further information, please contact:
Marielle Vosbeek
Press Office Ecofys
Kanaalweg 15-G
3526 KL Utrecht, The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 662-3402

Please send a specimen copy of your publication to the above address.