The UK Emittee .73% of Global Agricultural Sector Emissions in 2021

In 2021, the agriculture sector of the United Kingdom emitted 0.02 M TONNES CO₂, and 42.0 M TONNES CO2e100 (Climate Trace). Agriculture contributes to nitrous oxide (N₂O), methane (CH₄), and carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions. It is a significant source of nitrous oxide and methane emissions in the United Kingdom, accounting for 69% of total nitrous oxide emissions and 48% of total methane emissions in 2020(Agri-climate report 2022 – GOV.UK). In 2020, when compared to total emissions from all sectors, agriculture was the source of 11% of total GHG emissions in the UK, and 69% of total nitrous oxide emissions. 48% of total methane emissions.

From 1990 to 2020, the intensity of emissions from cattle, dairy and pigs decreased. For sheep, emissions have remained the same. The 2022 Farm Practices Survey (FPS) conducted in the UK indicated that 64% of farmers thought it important to consider GHGs when making farm business decisions, whilst 29% considered it not important.


The highest emitting sub-sector of the six agricultural sub-sectors that the Climate Trace provides is enteric-fermentation in the United Kingdom, followed by manure management (Figure 1, Table 1). Below is a brief analysis of the subsectors and their emission trends from 2015 to 2021.

Figure 1 UK’s emission comparison from the agriculture sector
Source: Climate Trace

Sector/Subsector CO₂ CH₄ N₂0 CO2e100 CO2e20
Cropland-fires 18343.37 93.61138 1.114421 21259.37 26248.85
Enteric-fermentation 0 951712.4 0 26647947 79943842
Manure-management 0 139027.7 6897.9 5720719 13499372
Other-agricultural-soil-emissions 0 0 22565.9 5979964 5957398
Rice-cultivation 0 0 0 0 0
Synthetic-fertilizer-application 0 0 13266.04 3621630 3621630

Table 1 UK’s emission comparison from agriculture sector Source: Climate Trace

  1. CROPLAND FIRE: Greenhouse gas emissions from cropland fire are one of the biggest agriculture base emission sub-sectors of UK. However, over the years it has seen a decreasing trend.
  2. ENTERIC FERMENTATION is a source of greenhouse gas methane (CH₄) emission. However, from 961019.3 T in 2015 to 951712.4 T in 2021, CH₄ emissions due to enteric-fermentation has decreased.
  3. MANURE MANAGEMENT is a source of CH₄ and N₂O in the UK. From the graph it can be seen that manure management is a significant source of CH₄, and both CH₄ and N₂O emissions have been consistent over the years.
  4. OTHER-AGRICULTURAL-SOIL-EMISSIONS, this sub-sector is responsible for emitting N₂O and over the years the rate of emission has not change much.
  5. RICE CULTIVATION does not contribute to any greenhouse gas emissions in the Great Britain as rice can not be cultivated in the country due to unsuitable climate.
  6. SYNTHETIC-FERTILIZER-APPLICATION is responsible for N₂O emission. However, the rate has been decreasing over the years.

Cereals, primarily wheat, oats, and barley; root vegetables, primarily potatoes and sugar beets; pulse crops such as beans or peas; forage crops such as cabbages, vetches, rape, and kale; fruit, primarily apples and pears; and hay for animal feed are among the crops commonly grown in the United Kingdom. Total cereal production in the UK of wheat, barley, oats, and minor cereals (rye, triticale, and mixed grain) was around 22.4 million tonnes in 2021, an 18% increase over 2020. This increase was the result of increased area and higher average yields. n 2021, the average farm size in England was 85ha, however farms in the North East had the largest average farm size of 137ha and farms in the West Midlands were, on average, the smallest at 66ha. The Northeast had the largest average farm size. In 2021, agriculture contributed around 0.5% to the United Kingdom’s economy. Agriculture provides half of the food the citizen consumes, employs almost half a million people and is a key part of the food and drink sector. The UK imports around 46 percent of the total food it consumes and is reliant on both imports and its agricultural sector to feed its population and drive economic growth.

Much of agricultural emissions come from livestock, agricultural soils, stationary combustion sources and off-road machinery. Between 1990 and 2020, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture decreased by around 16%. This occurred mainly during the 2000s, due to a fall in animal numbers and a decrease in synthetic fertiliser usage, and since then emissions have remained at a similar level.


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard UK Country Manager Prastuti Saikia


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