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Assessing the efficiency of changes in land use for mitigating climate change

December 20th, 2018

An interesting Research letter by Timothy D. Searchinger, Stefan Wirsenius, Tim Beringer & Patrice Dumas published as a Research Letter in Nature 249, 13 December 2018: Assessing efficiency of land use changes.

The authors propose a carbon benefits index that measures how changes in the output types, output quantities and production processes of a hectare of land contribute to the global capacity to store carbon and to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions. This index does not evaluate biodiversity or other ecosystem values, which must be analysed separately. We apply the index to a range of land-use and consumption choices relevant to climate policy, such as reforesting pastures, biofuel production and diet changes. We find that these choices can have much greater implications for the climate than previously understood because standard methods for evaluating the effects of land use4–11 on greenhouse gas emissions systematically underestimate the opportunity of land to store carbon if it is not used for agriculture.

Kindly submitted by member James B.


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