Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security?

Stefan Frank*, Petr Havlík, Jean François Soussana, Antoine Levesque, Hugo Valin, Eva Wollenberg, Ulrich Kleinwechter, Oliver Fricko, Mykola Gusti, Mario Herrero, Pete Smith, Tomoko Hasegawa, Florian Kraxner, Michael Obersteiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

To keep global warming possibly below 1.5C and mitigate adverse effects of climate change, agriculture, like all other sectors, will have to contribute to efforts in achieving net negative emissions by the end of the century. Cost-efficient distribution of mitigation across regions and economic sectors is typically calculated using a global uniform carbon price in climate stabilization scenarios. However, in reality such a carbon price would substantially affect food availability. Here, we assess the implications of climate change mitigation in the land use sector for agricultural production and food security using an integrated partial equilibrium modelling framework and explore ways of relaxing the competition between mitigation in agriculture and food availability. Using a scenario that limits global warming cost-efficiently across sectors to 1.5C, results indicate global food calorie losses ranging from 110–285 kcal per capita per day in 2050 depending on the applied demand elasticities. This could translate into a rise in undernourishment of 80–300 million people in 2050. Less ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation in the land use sector reduces the associated food security impact significantly, however the 1.5C target would not be achieved without additional reductions outside the land use sector. Efficiency of GHG mitigation will also depend on the level of participation globally. Our results show that if non-Annex-I countries decide not to contribute to mitigation action while other parties pursue their mitigation efforts to reach the global climate target, food security impacts in these non-Annex-I countries will be higher than if they participate in a global agreement, as inefficient mitigation increases agricultural production costs and therefore food prices. Land-rich countries with a high proportion of emissions from land use change, such as Brazil, could reduce emissions with only a marginal effect on food availability. In contrast, agricultural mitigation in high population (density) countries, such as China and India, would lead to substantial food calorie loss without a major contribution to global GHG mitigation. Increasing soil carbon sequestration on agricultural land would allow reducing the implied calorie loss by 65% when sticking to the initially estimated land use mitigation requirements, thereby limiting the impact on undernourishment to 20–75 million people, and storing significant amounts of carbon in soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105004
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume12
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017

Fingerprint

Food Supply
Agriculture
food security
Gas emissions
Greenhouse gases
greenhouse gas
mitigation
Gases
agriculture
Food
Land use
Global Warming
Carbon
Climate Change
Climate
Costs and Cost Analysis
food availability
land use
Soil
Carbon Sequestration

Keywords

  • AFOLU
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Food security
  • Partial equilibrium model
  • Soil carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Frank, S., Havlík, P., Soussana, J. F., Levesque, A., Valin, H., Wollenberg, E., ... Obersteiner, M. (2017). Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security? Environmental Research Letters, 12(10), [105004]. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa8c83

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security? / Frank, Stefan; Havlík, Petr; Soussana, Jean François; Levesque, Antoine; Valin, Hugo; Wollenberg, Eva; Kleinwechter, Ulrich; Fricko, Oliver; Gusti, Mykola; Herrero, Mario; Smith, Pete; Hasegawa, Tomoko; Kraxner, Florian; Obersteiner, Michael.

In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 12, No. 10, 105004, 02.10.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Frank, S, Havlík, P, Soussana, JF, Levesque, A, Valin, H, Wollenberg, E, Kleinwechter, U, Fricko, O, Gusti, M, Herrero, M, Smith, P, Hasegawa, T, Kraxner, F & Obersteiner, M 2017, 'Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security?', Environmental Research Letters, vol. 12, no. 10, 105004. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa8c83
Frank S, Havlík P, Soussana JF, Levesque A, Valin H, Wollenberg E et al. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security? Environmental Research Letters. 2017 Oct 2;12(10). 105004. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa8c83
Frank, Stefan ; Havlík, Petr ; Soussana, Jean François ; Levesque, Antoine ; Valin, Hugo ; Wollenberg, Eva ; Kleinwechter, Ulrich ; Fricko, Oliver ; Gusti, Mykola ; Herrero, Mario ; Smith, Pete ; Hasegawa, Tomoko ; Kraxner, Florian ; Obersteiner, Michael. / Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security?. In: Environmental Research Letters. 2017 ; Vol. 12, No. 10.
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