Carbon emissions scenarios of global land rush and potential mitigation strategies

Authors: Chuan Liao*, , Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan, Daniel Brown, University of Washington, Kerstin Nolte, University of Hanover
Topics: Land Use and Land Cover Change, Africa
Keywords: large-scale land transactions; carbon emission; land use land cover change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Coolidge, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The substantial numbers and area of large-scale land transactions (LSLTs) over the past two decades make concerns about the sustainability of LSLTs in various socio-environmental dimensions both acute and pressing. But investigations of their drivers and potential climate-related effects remain limited. Our study makes use of the best available global dataset on LSLTs to examine transaction drivers and estimate carbon emissions under different scenarios of land-cover change and fertilizer use. We show that if fully implemented on ~38M ha of transacted land, 2.51 GtC will be emitted during land conversion, with another 24.2 MtC/year from fertilizer use. Comparison of different combinations of forest protection policies and agricultural intensification levels reveals that stricter deforestation regulation with higher fertilizer use rates improves the carbon efficiency of agricultural production. Thus, integrating land sparing to regulate land allocation with interventions for enhancing tele-coupled agricultural commodity supply chains will boost agricultural yield while minimizing emissions.  

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