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Research Report

CLIMATE CHANGE AND AGRICULTURE: Can market governance mechanisms reduce emissions from the food system fairly and effectively?

Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Pages: 74
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 6-7)

    To achieve sustainable development multiple objectives must be met — and this is an extremely complex task. Human needs have to be balanced with environmental limits. Effective market governance mechanisms need to help achieve this balance. Nowhere is this more evident than in agricultural production — where environmental, climate and food security objectives need to be satisfied while meeting the needs of producers and consumers.

    Agricultural production and the climate are inextricably linked: the climate affects agricultural production and is itself affected by agricultural emissions. Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change, especially changes in precipitation and temperature, and particularly...

  2. (pp. 8-11)

    Agriculture is central to the challenge of climate change.¹ Not only is it increasingly — and often negatively — affected by rising temperatures and climatic instability, but it is itself also a major contributor, accounting for up to 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. (Bellarby et al., 2008). Emissions from the agricultural sector are determined not just by how farmers produce food, but also by what consumers choose to eat; these choices send signals to farmers through the food chain about what to produce.

    This paper assesses and compares the effectiveness and fairness of different market governance...

  3. (pp. 12-15)

    Agriculture — the production of food, fibres and fuels — is a major contributor to GHG emissions, accounting for up to 30 per cent of the global total. Of this, 10—12 per cent is emitted directly from farms, particularly methane (from ruminant animals and rice cultivation) and nitrous oxide (from soil processes, applications of inorganic fertiliser, and livestock dung and urine).

    Excessive nitrogen in the soil and water system is caused by applications both of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and of manure. These nutrient surpluses give rise to leaching and eutrophication, ammonia emissions and, as is now increasingly recognised, to...

  4. (pp. 16-49)

    This section examines in turn the spectrum of potential economic, regulatory, co-operative and information-related measures for reducing GHG emissions from agriculture, and assesses their effectiveness and their fairness.

    Section 4 adopts a similar approach, but focuses on MGMs that have the potential to influence consumer behaviour.

    The UK’s influential Stern Review judged carbon pricing to be one of three key elements needed (alongside technology policy and behavioural change) for the development of a global low-carbon society (Stern, 2007). Carbon pricing refers to attempts to place an economic cost on the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It involves imposing...

  5. (pp. 50-59)

    Section 3 has examined MGMs that potentially influence GHG emissions from agricultural production. Changes in what, and how, people consume can also influence production-related emissions, in affecting what is produced and how. There is a relationship between consumer waste behaviour and GHG emissions: wasted food represents a waste of all the emissions generated during the course of its production, processing, distribution and so forth.

    Much of the analysis presented so far recognises that production and consumption should not be separated. Nevertheless, while it is increasingly well established that reductions in meat and dairy consumption and in food waste can play...

  6. (pp. 60-64)

    This review indicates clear potential for well-designed MGM schemes to achieve the triple wins of GHG mitigation, enhanced food productivity, and income generation. These gains could be particularly of benefit to farmers in the developing world who depend upon the land for their survival.

    Here we distil our recommendations for designing specific MGMs that can help reduce GHGs without negative consequences for equity and poverty. We then look at some overarching recommendations for ensuring an optimal mix of MGMs.

    Our review suggests that economic instruments such as pricing schemes, emissions trading schemes, and charges and taxes have the potential to...