Special journal issue “Feeding 9 billion by 2050: challenges and opportunities”

16/04/2015 2 comments

In its April edition, the journal ‘Food Security’ presents a series of papers presented at an OECD meeting on “Feeding 9 billion by 2050: challenges and opportunities”.

The articles cover a range of topics related to future food security, ranging from general outlooks over the debate of sustainable intensification to water, the role of fish, or the impact of soil degradation.

Halfway There? The Land Sector’s Contribution to Closing the Emissions Gap

To mitigate or not to mitigate?

To mitigate or not to mitigate?

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists summarizes the current state of knowledgde on the potential for climate change mitigation in the agricultural, forestry and other land use sectors: Half or more of emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise under 2 degrees could come from land sectors of major emitting countries.

The total mitigation potential in the land sector world wide is up to 13 Gt CO2eq per year, of which only eight countries – Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the United States can contribute around 7 Gt Co2eq/year. This would be 76% of the emissions gap in 2020 and 44% in 2030.

An interesting aspect of such estimates of mitigation potentials is that they assume carbon prices of up to $100 per ton. At this, it is difficult to imagine that only emissions from the land use sector would be taxed from climate policies, Rather, such policies would also and primarily involve the energy sector. This by itself would already bring down emissions and reduce the demands for mitigation from the land use sector. Indeed, recent results from a comprehensive climate policy study suggest that with average carbon prices of at most $60 over the period to 2100 and the use of adequate technologies, the land use sector would have to contribute only about 1.1 GtCO2eq/year if a 2 degree target is to be attained.

So, the sector’s potential for greenhouse gas mitigation should be more than sufficient.

Using GAMS, R and LaTeX

I just came across an interesting post by Renger van Nieuwkoop on The Lazy Economist, where he writes about how to use R to produce tables from GAMS model output for use in LaTeX.

Very nice and very useful, indeed!


Strategic Foresight Conference at IFPRI

A one-day Strategic Foresight Conference took place at IFPRI Headquarters in Washington DC on November 7, 2014. Participants from leading global modeling groups, collaborating CGIAR centers and research programs, and other partners reviewed new long-term projections for global agriculture from IFPRI and other leading institutions, examined the potential impacts of climate change and other key challenges, and discussed the role of foresight work in identifying and supporting promising solutions. 

Topics included:

  • Long-term outlook and challenges for food & agriculture
  • Addressing the challenges
  • Foresight in the CGIAR

Speakers included representatives from IFPRI, GTAP & Purdue University, OECD, IIASA, CCAFS, CIMMYT and ICRISAT. Conference agenda, a webcast, as well as the presentations are available on the Global Futures & Strategic Foresight website.

RCPs, SSPs, SPAs, …. what????

At the latest with the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) a number of new acronyms started spilling out of the climate change research community to policy makers and the broader interested public. Centrally among them are RCPs, SSPs and SPAs, meaning Representative Concentration Pathways, Shared Socio-economic Pathways and Shared climate Policy Assumptions, respectively.

But what is this all about? And where do I have to look if I need more detailed information?

A nice and user-friendly introduction to the scenario framework is given at the IIASA website.

A first more detailed reference certainly is the article on A new scenario framework for Climate Change Research which forms part of a special issue A Framework for the Development of New Socio-economic Scenarios for Climate Change Research of the journal Climatic Change. The paper describes the basic concept how scenarios  that take into account the two dimensions of future climate change and socio-economic development can be formulated by combining alternative levels of radiative forcing of the climate system, described by RCPs, with alternative trajectories of future global development, described by the SSPs.

It also lines out that givens levels of radiative forcing may be attained through different climate policy designs and that different pathways of socio-economic development may require different sets of policies. This is the point where the SPAs come in, which complete the three-dimensional scenario framework.

For descriptions of the Shared Socio-economic Pathways (SSPs), another paper in the same special issue is worth reading. Details on the narratives that underlie each of the SSPs can be found in a workshop report on The Nature and Use of New Socioeconomic Pathways for Climate Change Research. The core data sets with pathways of economic growth and population growth for each SSP are accessible through the SSP Database.

The Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)  are dealt with extensively in another special issue on The Representative Concentration Pathways in Climatic Change. The articles in this collection give an overview on the RCPs and details on each of the RCPs that are used for the scenario framework.

The concept of Shared Policy Assumptions (SPAs)  is introduced  in a paper, which provides details on the concept and how it links into the general scenario framework.

As a nice feature, most of the information is open access.

A new climate for farming

In a new web special A New Climate For Farming Nature Climate Change presents a collection of articles and opinion pieces that deal with the various aspects of agriculture and climate change:

Climate change fundamentally alters the way that farmers need to plan and manage their operations. This is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting growing demand for food, fuel and fibre. This is a grand challenge for farmers and has the potential to touch the lives of everyone that uses farmed produce; in short, all of us. In this focus, Nature Climate Change presents a variety of original research and opinion pieces that highlight important themes in our understanding of the effects of climate change on agriculture, agriculture’s influence on the climate and our capacity to adapt to better face these challenges.

Really a nontraded commodity?, part 3: Potato trade in Uganda and beyond

DSCN1115 At the end of June 2012 we visited the potato wholesale market and the offices of the market information service Farmgain Africa in Kampala, Uganda to learn about trade in potatoes (called “Irish potato” in Uganda) in the country and the Eastern Africa region. Unstructured interviews have been held with traders, representatives of Farmgain and other experts. Here is what we’ve learnt:

Potato production in Uganda

According to the information received from the persons interviewed, most of the production of potatoes in Uganda is located in the Kabale region in the South of the country and in the Mt. Elgon region in the East. Potatoes are a commercial crop in Uganda. Farmers sell up to 80% of their harvest, but also retain a small part for own-consumption and as seed for the following cropping season.

Potato trade in Uganda

For trade within Uganda, potatoes are purchased by traders directly from the farmers in the production regions and taken to the wholesale market in Kampala. Kampala serves as a hub for potatoes in the countries and inter-regional trade only takes place if an importing region is on the route from a production region to Kampala.

Traders from Kampala trade internationally. Potatoes are brought from the Kampala market year-round to South Sudan. Markets in the DRC, Kenya and Rwanda are supplied mainly seasonally (Kenya during March/April and Rwanda during September/October). These countries, however, are also supplied directly from the production regions. Potatoes are directly taken from Kabale to Rwanda and the DRC. Kenya receive potatoes from the production regions in the East. Trade to the neighboring countries is cross-border, but also goes inland, for example to the capitals Kigali and Nairobi.

Also, the markets are well connected through the flow of price information. Traders use mobile phones to transmit information on market prices within the country and from/to neighboring countries (South Sudan, Kenya). As a consequence, international trade is responsive to price signals and arbitrage appears to take place. For example, at the time of the visit potatoes from Kenya were present on the market, according to the traders a consequence of the relatively high market prices in Kampala.

Potatoes traded on the wholesale market in Kampala are differentiated according to their intended end-use as table potatoes, for chipping or for French fries. These different qualities command different prices. While there is a certain price differential between the qualities, the traders confirmed that the prices moved together, e.g. if prices of one quality rise, prices of all other qualities increase as well.

[This blog post is basically a reproduction of a short report I just found on my harddrive. It can be seen as a complement to earlier work on trade in potatoes as was presented in “A look at the international potato trade network“.]


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