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              • Climate change and food: a new trade-off

                July 17, 2014
                by Giuseppe Addamo

                Greenhouse gases emissions - source: biomassmagazine.com

                A study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has investigated the effects of crop yield and livestock feed efficiency scenarios on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture and land use change in developing countries.

                The study has analyzed mitigation associated with different productivity pathways using the global partial equilibrium model GLOBIOM.

                The results confirm that yield increase could mitigate some agriculture-related emissions growth over the next decades.

                Closing yield gaps by 50% for crops and 25% for livestock by 2050 would decrease agriculture and land use change emissions by 8% overall, and by 12% per calorie produced.

                However, the outcome is sensitive to the technological path and which factor benefits from productivity gains: sustainable land intensification would increase GHG savings by one-third when compared with a fertilizer intensive pathway.

                Reaching higher yield through total factor productivity gains would be more efficient on the food supply side but halve emissions savings due to a strong rebound effect on the demand side.

                As shown in a previous report, the European Environment Agency (EEA) describes two main methods to quantify environmental pressures caused by consumption patterns and economic production sectors in the European Union (EU).

                Combining productivity increases in the two sectors appears to be the most efficient way to exploit mitigation and food security co-benefits.

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