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Mitigation Strategies for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture and Land-Use Change: Consequences for Food Prices

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Sustainable Solutions, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, D-14412, Germany
Economics of Climate Change, Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), Berlin, D-10623, Germany
§ Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Potsdam, D-14412, Germany
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), St Lucia, 4067 Qld, Australia
Technology Assessment and Substance Cycles, Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy (ATB), Potsdam, D-14469, Germany
# Department of Agricultural Economics, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin), Berlin, D-10099, Germany
*E-mail: [email protected]; phone: +49 331 288 20762; fax: +49 331 288 2039.
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, 51, 1, 365–374
Publication Date (Web):December 16, 2016
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.6b04291
Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society

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    Abstract

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    The land use sector of agriculture, forestry, and other land use (AFOLU) plays a central role in ambitious climate change mitigation efforts. Yet, mitigation policies in agriculture may be in conflict with food security related targets. Using a global agro–economic model, we analyze the impacts on food prices under mitigation policies targeting either incentives for producers (e.g., through taxes) or consumer preferences (e.g., through education programs). Despite having a similar reduction potential of 43–44% in 2100, the two types of policy instruments result in opposite outcomes for food prices. Incentive-based mitigation, such as protecting carbon-rich forests or adopting low-emission production techniques, increase land scarcity and production costs and thereby food prices. Preference-based mitigation, such as reduced household waste or lower consumption of animal-based products, decreases land scarcity, prevents emissions leakage, and concentrates production on the most productive sites and consequently lowers food prices. Whereas agricultural emissions are further abated in the combination of these mitigation measures, the synergy of strategies fails to substantially lower food prices. Additionally, we demonstrate that the efficiency of agricultural emission abatement is stable across a range of greenhouse-gas (GHG) tax levels, while resulting food prices exhibit a disproportionally larger spread.

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