Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments
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Lobell DB, Baldos ULC, Hertel TW. 2013. Climate adaptation as mitigation: the case of agricultural investments. Environmental Research Letters 8(1):015012.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52107
Successful adaptation of agriculture to ongoing climate changes would help to maintain productivity growth and thereby reduce pressure to bring new lands into agriculture. In this paper we investigate the potential co-benefits of adaptation in terms of the avoided emissions from land use change. A model of global agricultural trade and land use, called SIMPLE, is utilized to link adaptation investments, yield growth rates, land conversion rates, and land use emissions. A scenario of global adaptation to offset negative yield impacts of temperature and precipitation changes to 2050, which requires a cumulative 225 billion USD of additional investment, results in 61 Mha less conversion of cropland and 15 Gt carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) fewer emissions by 2050. Thus our estimates imply an annual mitigation co-benefit of 0.35 GtCO2e yr−1 while spending $15 per tonne CO2e of avoided emissions. Uncertainty analysis is used to estimate a 5–95% confidence interval around these numbers of 0.25–0.43 Gt and $11–$22 per tonne CO2e. A scenario of adaptation focused only on Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, while less costly in aggregate, results in much smaller mitigation potentials and higher per tonne costs. These results indicate that although investing in the least developed areas may be most desirable for the main objectives of adaptation, it has little net effect on mitigation because production gains are offset by greater rates of land clearing in the benefited regions, which are relatively low yielding and land abundant. Adaptation investments in high yielding, land scarce regions such as Asia and North America are more effective for mitigation.