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Rice-related greenhouse gases in Japan, variations in scale and time and significance for the Kyoto Protocol

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The contribution of rice production to the three major greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 and N2O in 1990, the base year of the Kyoto protocol is investigated for Japan. For the CO2 assessment, we use a top-down life cycle approach, CH4 is assessed using the Japanese GHG emission inventory and N2O is assessed according to the ratio of rice area divided by the total area of agricultural soils. In total, 1.6% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 1990 originated from rice production. Next, we assess regional variations in nine rice-producing regions, based on the CO2 data of 1990. General trends in rice production from 1960 to 2000 and data from the Japanese GHG emission inventory since 1990 are used to assess variations in time. The rice-related GHG emissions decreased to 1.05% of the total GHG emissions in 2001 and will be less than half the 1990 level in 2012, mainly due to the decrease in rice production. Contrary to the trend in GHG emissions of rice, overall GHG emissions increased as rice production fulfils important roles, in mitigating global warming and in adapting to changing climates. The protection of rice production is required to counter the increase of GHG emissions in transportation, waste and domestic sectors and to minimize problems related to landscape, water and natural hazard management.

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