Global Food Demand and Carbon-Preserving Cropland Expansion under Varying Levels of Intensification

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Land Economics, ISSN: 0023-7639, Vol: 92, Issue: 4, Page: 579-592

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Justin Andrew Johnson; Carlisle Ford Runge; Benjamin Senauer; Stephen Polasky
University of Wisconsin Press
Environmental Science; Economics, Econometrics and Finance
article description
Increasing demand for agricultural crops and a decline in the rate of yield improvements will require expansion of cropland (extensification), resulting in a loss of carbon storage. This paper uses global, spatially explicit data to analyze how extensification can be located to meet crop demand in a way that minimizes carbon losses under varying levels of intensification. Carbon-preserving extensification can reduce carbon loss by 7.3 billion tons compared to proportionally increasing extensification by 2050, valued at $1.3 trillion (2012 dollars) based on an estimated social cost of carbon of (~$181 per ton CO).