Report

Implications of Limiting CO2 Concentrations for Land Use and Energy

Science  29 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5931, pp. 1183-1186
DOI: 10.1126/science.1168475

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Abstract

Limiting atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations to low levels requires strategies to manage anthropogenic carbon emissions from terrestrial systems as well as fossil fuel and industrial sources. We explore the implications of fully integrating terrestrial systems and the energy system into a comprehensive mitigation regime that limits atmospheric CO2 concentrations. We find that this comprehensive approach lowers the cost of meeting environmental goals but also carries with it profound implications for agriculture: Unmanaged ecosystems and forests expand, and food crop and livestock prices rise. Finally, we find that future improvement in food crop productivity directly affects land-use change emissions, making the technology for growing crops potentially important for limiting atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

  • * Present address: Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1800 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA.

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