The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Lamb, A., Green, R., Bateman, I., Broadmeadow, M., Bruce, T. J. A., Burney, J., Carey, P., Chadwick, D. R., Crane, E., Field, R., Goulding, K. W. T., Griffiths, H., Hastings, A., Kasoar, T., Kindred, D., Phalan, B., Pickett, J. A., Smith, P., Wall, E., Zu Ermgassen, E. K. H. J. and Balmford, A. 2016. The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Nature Climate Change. 6, pp. 488-492.

AuthorsLamb, A., Green, R., Bateman, I., Broadmeadow, M., Bruce, T. J. A., Burney, J., Carey, P., Chadwick, D. R., Crane, E., Field, R., Goulding, K. W. T., Griffiths, H., Hastings, A., Kasoar, T., Kindred, D., Phalan, B., Pickett, J. A., Smith, P., Wall, E., Zu Ermgassen, E. K. H. J. and Balmford, A.
Abstract

Greenhouse gas emissions from global agriculture are increasing at around 1% per annum, yet substantial cuts in emissions are needed across all sectors1. The challenge of reducing agricultural emissions is particularly acute, because the reductions achievable by changing farming practices are limited2,3 and are hampered by rapidly rising food demand4,5. Here we assess the technical mitigation potential offered by land sparing—increasing agricultural yields, reducing farmland area and actively restoring natural habitats on the land spared6. Restored habitats can sequester carbon and can offset emissions from agriculture. Using the UK 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 realized in practice.

Year of Publication2016
JournalNature Climate Change
Journal citation6, pp. 488-492
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1038/nclimate2910
Open accessPublished as green open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
The Rothamsted Long-Term Experiments including Sample Archive and e-RA database [2012-2017]
Optimisation of nutrients in soil-plant systems: How can we control nitrogen cycling in soil?
Quantifying Sustainable Systems
Innovative approaches to pest management
Accepted author manuscript
Copyright license
CC BY-NC-ND
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online04 Jan 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted02 Dec 2015
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
PublisherNature Publishing Group
ISSN1758-678X

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