Impacts of climate mitigation strategies in the energy sector on global land use and carbon balance

Impacts of climate mitigation strategies in the energy sector on global land use and carbon balance

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit climate change-induced damage to the global economy and secure the livelihoods of future generations requires ambitious mitigation  strategies.  The  introduction  of  a  global  carbon  tax  on  fossil fuels  is  tested  here  as  a  mitigation  strategy  to  reduce  atmospheric  CO2 concentrations  and  radiative  forcing.  Taxation of  fossil  fuels  potentially  leads  to  changed  composition  of  energy  sources,  including  a  larger  relative  contribution  from  bioenergy.  Further, the introduction of a mitigation strategy reduces climate change-induced damage to the global economy, and  thus  can  indirectly  affect  consumption  patterns  and  investments  in  agricultural  technologies  and  yield  enhancement.

Here  the authors assess  the implications of changes in  bioenergy demand as  well as  the  indirectly caused changes  in  consumption  and crop yields for global and national cropland area and terrestrial biosphere carbon balance. The research applies a novel integrated assessment modelling framework, combining a climate-economy model, a socio-economic land-use model and an ecosystem model.  We  develop  reference  and  mitigation  scenarios  based  on  the  Shared  Socio-economic  Pathways  (SSPs)  framework.  

Taking emissions from the land-use sector into account, we find that the introduction of a global carbon tax on the fossil fuel sector  is  an  effective  mitigation  strategy  only  for  scenarios  with  low  population development  and  strong  sustainability criteria  (SSP1  “Taking  the  green  road”).  For scenarios with high population growth,  low  technological  development  and bioenergy production the high demand for cropland causes the terrestrial biosphere to switch from being a carbon sink to a source by the end of the 21st century.

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