Implications of alternative metrics for global mitigation costs and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

Reisinger, A., Havlik, P. ORCID:, Riahi, K. ORCID:, van Vliet, O., Obersteiner, M. ORCID:, & Herrero, M. (2013). Implications of alternative metrics for global mitigation costs and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Climatic Change 117 (4) 677-690. 10.1007/s10584-012-0593-3.

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Project: Climate Change - Terrestrial Adaption and Mitigation in Europe (CCTAME, FP7 212535), Greenhouse gas management in European land use systems (GHG EUROPE, FP7 244122), GLOBIOM


100-year Global Warming Potentials (GWPs) are used almost universally to compare emissions of greenhouse gases in national inventories and reduction targets. GWPs have been criticised on several grounds, but little work has been done to determine global mitigation costs under alternative physics-based metrics. We used the integrated assessment model MESSAGE to compare emission pathways and abatement costs for mixed and time-dependent variants of the Global Temperature Change Potential (GTP) with those based on GWPs, for a policy goal of limiting the radiative forcing to a specified level in the year 2100. We find that fixed 100-year GTPs would increase global abatement costs (discounted and aggregated over the 21st century) under this policy goal by 5-20% relative to 100-year GWPs, whereas time-varying GTP would reduce costs by about 5%. These cost differences are smaller than differences arising from alternative assumptions regarding agricultural mitigation potential and much smaller than those arising from alternative radiative forcing targets. Using the land-use model GLOBIOM, we show that alternative metrics affect food production differently in different world regions depending on regional characteristics of future land-use change to meet growing food demand. We conclude that under scenarios of complete participation, the choice of metric has a limited impact on global abatement costs but could be important for the political economy of regional and sectoral participation in collective mitigation efforts, in particular changing costs and gains over time for agriculture and energy-intensive sectors.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Energy (ENE)
Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Transitions to New Technologies (TNT)
Bibliographic Reference: Climatic Change; 117(4):677-690 (April 2013) (Published online 6 October 2012)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:49
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:23

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