The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

Anthony Lamb, Rhys Green, Ian Bateman, Mark Broadmeadow, Toby Bruce, Jennifer Burney, Pete Carey, David Chadwick, Ellie Crane, Rob Field, Keith Goulding, Howard Griffiths, Astley Hastings, Tim Kasoar, Daniel Kindred, Ben Phalan, John Pickett, Pete Smith, Eileen Wall, Erasmus K. H. J. zu Ermgassen & 1 others Andrew Balmford

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

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Abstract

Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1% per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors1. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited2, 3 and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand4, 5. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing—increasing agricultural yields, reducing farmland area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared6. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the UK as an example, we estimate net emissions in 2050 under a range of future agricultural scenarios. We find that a land-sparing strategy has the technical potential to achieve significant reductions in net emissions from agriculture and land-use change. Coupling land sparing with demand-side strategies to reduce meat consumption and food waste can further increase the technical mitigation potential—however, economic and implementation considerations might limit the degree to which this technical potential could be realized in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-492
Number of pages5
JournalNature Climate Change
Volume6
Early online date4 Jan 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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greenhouse gas
agriculture
mitigation
agricultural land
habitat
agricultural emission
food
meat
land use change
land
land use
scenario
carbon
economics
demand

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Lamb, A., Green, R., Bateman, I., Broadmeadow, M., Bruce, T., Burney, J., ... Balmford, A. (2016). The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Nature Climate Change, 6, 488-492. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2910

The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. / Lamb, Anthony; Green, Rhys; Bateman, Ian; Broadmeadow, Mark; Bruce, Toby; Burney, Jennifer; Carey, Pete; Chadwick, David; Crane, Ellie; Field, Rob; Goulding, Keith; Griffiths, Howard; Hastings, Astley; Kasoar, Tim; Kindred, Daniel ; Phalan, Ben; Pickett, John; Smith, Pete; Wall, Eileen; zu Ermgassen , Erasmus K. H. J.; Balmford, Andrew.

In: Nature Climate Change, Vol. 6, 05.2016, p. 488-492.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

Lamb, A, Green, R, Bateman, I, Broadmeadow, M, Bruce, T, Burney, J, Carey, P, Chadwick, D, Crane, E, Field, R, Goulding, K, Griffiths, H, Hastings, A, Kasoar, T, Kindred, D, Phalan, B, Pickett, J, Smith, P, Wall, E, zu Ermgassen , EKHJ & Balmford, A 2016, 'The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture', Nature Climate Change, vol. 6, pp. 488-492. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2910
Lamb, Anthony ; Green, Rhys ; Bateman, Ian ; Broadmeadow, Mark ; Bruce, Toby ; Burney, Jennifer ; Carey, Pete ; Chadwick, David ; Crane, Ellie ; Field, Rob ; Goulding, Keith ; Griffiths, Howard ; Hastings, Astley ; Kasoar, Tim ; Kindred, Daniel ; Phalan, Ben ; Pickett, John ; Smith, Pete ; Wall, Eileen ; zu Ermgassen , Erasmus K. H. J. ; Balmford, Andrew. / The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. In: Nature Climate Change. 2016 ; Vol. 6. pp. 488-492.
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abstract = "Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1{\%} per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors1. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited2, 3 and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand4, 5. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing—increasing agricultural yields, reducing farmland area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared6. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the UK as an example, we estimate net emissions in 2050 under a range of future agricultural scenarios. We find that a land-sparing strategy has the technical potential to achieve significant reductions in net emissions from agriculture and land-use change. Coupling land sparing with demand-side strategies to reduce meat consumption and food waste can further increase the technical mitigation potential—however, economic and implementation considerations might limit the degree to which this technical potential could be realized in practice.",
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note = "This research was funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund for Conservation, and we thank its major sponsor Arcadia. We thank J. Bruinsma for the provision of demand data, the CEH for the provision of soil data and J. Spencer for invaluable discussions. A.L. was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. T.B., K.G. and J.P. acknowledge BBSRC funding through grant BBS/E/C/00005198.",
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AU - Bateman, Ian

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AU - Burney, Jennifer

AU - Carey, Pete

AU - Chadwick, David

AU - Crane, Ellie

AU - Field, Rob

AU - Goulding, Keith

AU - Griffiths, Howard

AU - Hastings, Astley

AU - Kasoar, Tim

AU - Kindred, Daniel

AU - Phalan, Ben

AU - Pickett, John

AU - Smith, Pete

AU - Wall, Eileen

AU - zu Ermgassen , Erasmus K. H. J.

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N1 - This research was funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund for Conservation, and we thank its major sponsor Arcadia. We thank J. Bruinsma for the provision of demand data, the CEH for the provision of soil data and J. Spencer for invaluable discussions. A.L. was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. T.B., K.G. and J.P. acknowledge BBSRC funding through grant BBS/E/C/00005198.

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N2 - Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1% per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors1. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited2, 3 and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand4, 5. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing—increasing agricultural yields, reducing farmland area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared6. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the UK as an example, we estimate net emissions in 2050 under a range of future agricultural scenarios. We find that a land-sparing strategy has the technical potential to achieve significant reductions in net emissions from agriculture and land-use change. Coupling land sparing with demand-side strategies to reduce meat consumption and food waste can further increase the technical mitigation potential—however, economic and implementation considerations might limit the degree to which this technical potential could be realized in practice.

AB - Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1% per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors1. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited2, 3 and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand4, 5. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing—increasing agricultural yields, reducing farmland area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared6. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the UK as an example, we estimate net emissions in 2050 under a range of future agricultural scenarios. We find that a land-sparing strategy has the technical potential to achieve significant reductions in net emissions from agriculture and land-use change. Coupling land sparing with demand-side strategies to reduce meat consumption and food waste can further increase the technical mitigation potential—however, economic and implementation considerations might limit the degree to which this technical potential could be realized in practice.

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