Research ArticleWELFARE ECONOMICS

The impact of high-end climate change on agricultural welfare

Science Advances  24 Aug 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 8, e1501452
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501452

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Abstract

Climate change threatens agricultural productivity worldwide, resulting in higher food prices. Associated economic gains and losses differ not only by region but also between producers and consumers and are affected by market dynamics. On the basis of an impact modeling chain, starting with 19 different climate projections that drive plant biophysical process simulations and ending with agro-economic decisions, this analysis focuses on distributional effects of high-end climate change impacts across geographic regions and across economic agents. By estimating the changes in surpluses of consumers and producers, we find that climate change can have detrimental impacts on global agricultural welfare, especially after 2050, because losses in consumer surplus generally outweigh gains in producer surplus. Damage in agriculture may reach the annual loss of 0.3% of future total gross domestic product at the end of the century globally, assuming further opening of trade in agricultural products, which typically leads to interregional production shifts to higher latitudes. Those estimated global losses could increase substantially if international trade is more restricted. If beneficial effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide fertilization can be realized in agricultural production, much of the damage could be avoided. Although trade policy reforms toward further liberalization help alleviate climate change impacts, additional compensation mechanisms for associated environmental and development concerns have to be considered.

Keywords
  • climate change impacts
  • Agriculture
  • Welfare Economics
  • international trade
  • Climate Change Adaptation

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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