Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

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.

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.

Simulation modeling for foresight analysis and ex-ante impact assessment in potato and sweetpotato

Is it possible to use large scale agricultural simulation models for the analysis of crops like potatoes and sweetpotatoes?

Yes! The Global Futures for Agriculture and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project, which has the objective of developing and applying an integrated simulation modeling framework for the comprehensive analysis of trends and technology impacts in the CGIAR mandate crops and systems, is doing exactly this. At least the part of this research collaboration of all in all 12 centers of the CGIAR which is taking place at the International Potato Center (CIP), as was explained in a seminar held on 24 April 2014 at the CIP Headquarters in Lima.

The core component of the modeling framework developed in the project is the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), an economic partial equilibrium model of the world agricultural sector. IMPACT has the capability of generating forward looking global analyses of supply, demand, prices and trade of 56 agricultural commodities in 320 geographic regions, taking into account major drivers like

Read more…

Modeling climate change and agriculture: a special issue of Agricultural Economics

AgEconAgMIPA highly interesting series of articles on economic foresight modeling in the area of agriculture and climate change has been published in the January 2014 special issue “Modeling climate change and agriculture” of Agricultural Economics.

The articles present analyses of the future consequences of climate change and global socio-economic development trends for agricultural production, food consumption, along with the potential impacts of alternative policy responses to these developments. All articles are outputs of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) and the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), which brought together key global economic modeling groups in a cross-model scenario comparison exercise.

The articles are not only insightful with respect to the projections themselves, but also give a very good impression of the present global economic modeling landscape. It is also highly valuable that identical scenarios have been simulated with a large number of simulation models. This provides important evidence about the degree of uncertainty in the model projections and helps understanding root causes for differences in model results.

The articles are

And what’s also great: All articles are Open Access!

The scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

The latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.

This statement reflects a scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change. But how does this scientific consensus actually look like and how strong is it? Two studies explore this question more in detail.

In a first paper, Scientific Historian Naomi Oreskes at the University of California at San Diego analyses 928 papers on global climate change published between 1993 and 2003 to see how many of them endorse the consensus that climate change is real and is influenced by human activity and how many disagree with the consensus position. Her results show that none of the papers disagrees with the consensus.

A second paper by a team around John Cook of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland extends the analysis by Oreskes and examines abstracts of 11 944 scientific papers from 1991–2011 matching the topics ‘global climate change’ or ‘global warming’.  Of the abstracts that express a position on anthropogenic climate change, 97.1% endorse the consensus position. Less than 2% of the papers reject the consensus.

The two studies show in a convincing manner that there is virtually no disagreement within the scientific community on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Disagreement or discussion rather exist about the speed and magnitude of climate change and on the measures required to tackle it.


Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S.A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R., Way, R., Jacobs, P., Skuce, A., 2013. Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environ. Res. Lett. 8, 024024.

IPCC, 2013. Summary for Policy Makers, in: Stocker, T., Qin, D., Plattner, G.-K., Tignor, M., Allen, S., Boschung, J., Nauels, A., Xia, Y., Bex, V., Midgley, P.M. (Eds.), Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC, Switzerland.

Oreskes, N., 2004. The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change. Science 306, 1686–1686.

[This blog post was inspired by the course Climate Change in Four Dimensions at]