The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture
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zu, Ermgassen Erasmus KHJ
Nature Climate Change
Nature Publishing Group
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Lamb, A., Green, R., Bateman, I., Broadmeadow, M., Bruce, T., Burney, J., Carey, P., et al. (2016). The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Nature Climate Change, 6 488-492. https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2910
Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1% per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing-increasing agricultural yields, reducing farm land area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the United Kingdom as an example, we estimate net emissions in 2050 under a range of future agricultural scenarios. We find that a land-sparing strategy has the technical potential to achieve significant reductions in net emissions from agriculture and land-use change. Coupling land sparing with demand-side strategies to reduce meat consumption and food waste can further increase the technical mitigation potential, however economic and implementation considerations might limit the degree to which this technical potential could be realised in practice.
This research was funded by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Collaborative Fund for Conservation and we thank its major sponsor Arcadia. We thank J. Bruinsma for the provision of demand data, the CEH for the provision of soil data and J. Spencer for invaluable discussions. A.L. was supported by a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2910
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253042