Mongolia: Preliminary 1990 Greenhouse Gas Inventory

D. Dagvadorj and M. Munkh-tsetseg

Hydrometeorological Research Institute
Ministry for Nature and the Environment, Mongolia

SUMMARY: Mongolia is the 35th country to have ratified the United Nation's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). One of the commitments accepted by the country is the submission of a national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory to the world society. At the end of 1993, Mongolia joined the U.S. Country Studies Program and has begun to compile its national GHG inventory. We have used IPCC methods for estimation of this inventory. We prepared initial estimates of anthropogenic emissions of GHG in Mongolia for 1990. Due to the lack of data necessary for calculations, these estimations are not complete and we continue with our efforts to make them more precise. Mongolia's national GHG inventory comprises emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide (CO) from five main sectors: Energy, Industry, Agriculture, Land-Use Change and Forestry, and Waste. It was estimated that in 1990 emissions from the abovementioned sectors totalled 19,524 Gg carbon dioxide, 330.1 Gg methane, 0.9 Gg nitrogen oxides, and 83.3 Gg carbon monoxide (Table 1).


In this report, Mongolia presents its atmospheric emissions inventory for the first time. The initial version of the inventory was carried out at the Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Ministry of Nature and Environment, for 1990. We followed the IPCC inventory guidelines (IPCC, 1993).

The inventory includes emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide. Following the IPCC Guidelines, the inventory reports emissions from five sectors: Energy, Industrial Processes, Agriculture, Land-Use Change and Forestry, and Waste. Due to the historical, geographical, climatic and economic characteristics of the country, some sources of GHG, such as oil and gas systems, savanna and agricultural residues burning, rice cultivation, and forest clearing, do not apply to Mongolia. Emissions from fuel combustion for power generation and conversion of grasslands to arable land are the largest sources of carbon dioxide. A significant amount of methane is emitted by livestock.


We followed the IPCC inventory guidelines. The lack of data necessary for calculations was the main obstacle for us. Basically it was possible to obtain only general statistics such as fuel consumption, cement production, domestic animal population, area of cultivated land, etc. (Statistical Yearbook, 1992, 1994). Country-specific emission factors of gases were not developed in Mongolia.

Data collection was the most difficult for the Forestry and Waste sectors. Where necessary, we have used default IPCC values given in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory Workbook. We would like to note that these default data were very helpful in carrying out the inventory.


The 1990 greenhouse gas emissions highlights are presented in Table 1. These results are preliminary and may be changed as more precise data become available. The sectoral distribution for both carbon dioxide and methane emissions is shown on Figures 1 and 2. Both Figures are derived from Table 1.


The Energy sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions in Mongolia. Activities in this sector cover coal production (mining and post-mining activities such as transportation and storage), fuel combustion at the thermal power stations, and coal and biomass combustion in private houses (ovens) for heating purposes.

The main type of fossil fuel used in Mongolia is coal. Natural gas and oil are not produced in Mongolia and are not imported. Coal is burned mainly at the power stations and in less quantities in private small dwellings. Oil products (kerosene, gasoline, etc.) are imported and used for transportation and power stations. Combustion of these fuels is the greatest source of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

Biomass in Mongolia is burned in cook-stoves only. Other activities like agricultural residues burning and on-site burning of cleared forest are not applicable in Mongolia. Biomass burning is the only significant source of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide according to our calculations. Emissions from the transportation sector have not been estimated yet. The only significant methane source for the energy sector is coal mining and post-mining activities. However, these emissions are relatively insignificant compared to methane emissions from agriculture.

Industrial Processes

Following the IPCC Guidelines, cement production is included into the industrial processes sector (IPCC, 1993). Cement production emission estimates are presented in Table 1. Although heavy industry is not developed sufficiently in Mongolia, mining is the basis of the national economy. Unfortunately, until now, we do not have a methodology to calculate emissions from other industrial processes.


Emissions of methane from enteric fermentation and anaerobic decomposition of manure of domestic animals are the primary GHG emissions from agriculture. Other sources of GHG such as rice cultivation and savanna burning included in the IPCC Guidelines are not applicable for Mongolia. This is due to the geographical location of the country. Open burning of agricultural residues are not a significant source. Since 1990 agricultural residues are used completely for livestock needs. Emissions from livestock account for 91 percent of all methane emissions, which was 330.1 Gg of methane in 1990. The livestock population is relatively large (26.3 m heads, including swine and poultry at the 1990 level) (Statistical Yearbook, 1992).

Historically, Mongolia is a country of nomads and livestock breeding is the traditional form of lifestyle instead of farms. A very insignificant part of the livestock population (farming cows, swine, and poultry) is raised on farms. Thus, anaerobic decomposition of manure is not a large source for Mongolia, especially due to the dry boreal climate conditions. This is a source of uncertainty in the emission estimates.

Land-Use Change and Forestry

The IPCC Guidelines describe four potential sources for this sector: forest clearing, conversion of grasslands into cultivated land, abandonment of managed lands, and managed forests. Mongolia's inventory includes emissions and uptake of GHG from two of these sources: conversion of grasslands to cultivated land, and managed forests. Forests cover about 8‹ 10 percent of the territory of the country and forest clearing is insignificant.

The estimates of emissions from managed forests are preliminary and will be refined as more data become available.

The tradition of land cultivation in Mongolia is not very long. Mongolia began to cultivate considerable land area only after 1958. More recently, some cultivated land has been abandoned. We have estimated the area of abandoned lands, but do not have relevant information (annual rate of aboveground biomass uptake and rate of uptake in soils) since default values were not available. In this way, it was not possible to calculate carbon dioxide uptake of this sink.

Under the IPCC Guidelines, we have estimated that conversion of grasslands to cultivated land is the second largest emission source of carbon dioxide for Mongolia, accounting for up to 36.8 percent of CO2 emissions. In our view, this estimate is too high due to the use of a default coefficient of soil carbon content of grasslands for temperate regions which is 70 ton per hectare. We estimate that 1,400 kha of grasslands have been converted from 1958 to 1990 (Statistical Yearbook, 1994).


Waste management activities generate methane, produced from anaerobic bacterial decomposition of organic matter in landfills, industrial and municipal wastewater. We estimated emissions from this sector as 14.5 Gg of methane, which is 4.4 percent of all methane emissions. We used the default values provided in the IPCC Guidelines.


This article is an overview of the first version of the 1990 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory of Mongolia. Therefore, the results presented here are preliminary and will be revised as more detailed estimations are made. One of the main problems we faced was the lack of data on emission factors and activity levels suitable for Mongolia. We have used IPCC default values in many cases. However, in some cases default values were not available. This lack of data is a significant source of uncertainty and bias for the emissions estimate. For example, carbon dioxide emissions from land- use change and forestry from 1990 may be too high.

These preliminary results show that we need more detailed information for all sectors to produce more reliable results.


IPCC/OECD Joint Programme. 1993. IPCC Draft Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Vol.1. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reporting Instructions.

IPCC/OECD Joint Programme. 1993. IPCC Draft Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Vol.2. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Workbook.

IPCC/OECD Joint Programme. 1993. IPCC Draft Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Vol.3. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reference Manual.

Statistical Office of Mongolia. 1992. Mongolian Economy in 1991. Statistical Yearbook.

Statistical Office of Mongolia. 1994. Mongolian Economy and Society in 1993. Statistical Yearbook.

March 1995

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