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GTAP Events: Center Seminar Series

"Effects on Food Prices of Using Land to Mitigate Climate Change"
by John Reilly

A world population that may reach ten billion people by century’s end with growing incomes will place greater demands on land for the production of food and forest products1,2,3. In addition, the production of biomass-based energy and the provision of ecosystem services such as carbon storage will create large new demands for land. At the same time, environmental changes including climate and tropospheric ozone threaten the productivity of agro-ecosystems. Using a linked modeling system4,5 that simulates global economic activity, climate and atmospheric change, and biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems, we consider the implications of multiple land pressures for the climate system, energy production and food prices. Here we show that an ambitious global energy-only climate policy likely would not achieve the Copenhagen target of 2°C temperature increase above preindustrial level, while pricing of carbon storage in land gets the world much closer. The significant tradeoff is that prices for conventional land-intensive products (e.g., crops, livestock, and forest products) rise substantially compared with scenarios where land-use emissions are not priced. An increased competition for land would reverse the historic trend of generally decreasing prices for food. We find that global food prices would increase by 35 percent by century’s end with an energy-only policy, while inclusion of land into the climate policy would increase them by 80 percent. By 2100, we project that biofuels would provide more than a third of global energy needs in an energy-only policy, while pricing of carbon in land would result in a large immediate incentive to reforest many areas and reduces the contribution of biofuels.

Date/Time: 11/5/2010   03:30 PM - 05:00 PM
Location: KRAN 661