Comparing impacts of climate change and mitigation on global agriculture by 2050

Hans van Meijl*, Petr Havlik, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Elke Stehfest, Peter Witzke, Ignacio P. Domínguez, Benjamin L. Bodirsky, Michiel van Dijk, Jonathan Doelman, Thomas Fellmann, Florian Humpenöder, Jason F.L. Koopman, Christoph Müller, Alexander Popp, Andrzej Tabeau, Hugo Valin, Willem J. van Zeist

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Systematic model inter-comparison helps to narrow discrepancies in the analysis of the future impact of climate change on agricultural production. This paper presents a set of alternative scenarios by five global climate and agro-economic models. Covering integrated assessment (IMAGE), partial equilibrium (CAPRI, GLOBIOM, MAgPIE) and computable general equilibrium (MAGNET) models ensures a good coverage of biophysical and economic agricultural features. These models are harmonized with respect to basic model drivers, to assess the range of potential impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector by 2050. Moreover, they quantify the economic consequences of stringent global emission mitigation efforts, such as non-CO2 emission taxes and land-based mitigation options, to stabilize global warming at 2 °C by the end of the century under different Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. A key contribution of the paper is a vis-à-vis comparison of climate change impacts relative to the impact of mitigation measures. In addition, our scenario design allows assessing the impact of the residual climate change on the mitigation challenge. From a global perspective, the impact of climate change on agricultural production by mid-century is negative but small. A larger negative effect on agricultural production, most pronounced for ruminant meat production, is observed when emission mitigation measures compliant with a 2 °C target are put in place. Our results indicate that a mitigation strategy that embeds residual climate change effects (RCP2.6) has a negative impact on global agricultural production relative to a no-mitigation strategy with stronger climate impacts (RCP6.0). However, this is partially due to the limited impact of the climate change scenarios by 2050. The magnitude of price changes is different amongst models due to methodological differences. Further research to achieve a better harmonization is needed, especially regarding endogenous food and feed demand, including substitution across individual commodities, and endogenous technological change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number064021
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2018


  • adaptation
  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • economic models
  • mitigation
  • shared socioeconomic pathways

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