Hokkaido to Push Farm Decarbonization through Joint Research

Courtesy of Ajinomoto Co.
Cattle consume feed that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from their manure.

Hokkaido is set to launch decarbonization efforts in the agricultural sector that will reduce greenhouse gases contained in cow manure and burps through joint research.

The prefectural government will establish an industry-government-academia consultative body on Thursday to conduct the research.

Hokkaido — whose agricultural output was the highest among the nation’s prefectures in 2020 at ¥1.27 trillion — aims to play a leading role in decarbonization as a domestic food supplier.

The consortium on decarbonizing the agricultural sector is expected to include about 20 organizations, with the prefecture serving as its secretariat. Hokkaido agricultural and economic organizations and universities are to join the consortium, and participation from outside Hokkaido is expected from food manufacturers and startups.

The consortium plans to work with industry, the government and academia to develop feed that reduces methane in cattle burps. It will also conduct research on soil management to reduce methane emissions from rice fields.

The body is expected to discuss initiatives such as translating reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or the absorption of such emissions into a monetary value, and offsetting emissions by having high-emitting companies purchase reduction and absorption credits from farmers. It also plans to exchange information on decarbonization.

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, greenhouse gas emissions from the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector in fiscal 2021 in Japan totaled the equivalent of 49.49 million tons of carbon dioxide, or 4.2% of nationwide emissions.

Nearly half of the total emissions for the sector comes from methane, from sources such as cattle burps. Methane is said to have a greenhouse effect 25 times greater than CO2.

The government has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the sector by 3.5% by fiscal 2030.