Climate policy implications for agricultural water demand

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Energy, water and land are scarce resources, critical to humans. Developments in each affect the availability and cost of the others, and consequently human prosperity. Measures to limit greenhouse gas concentrations will inevitably exact dramatic changes on energy and land systems and in turn alter the character, magnitude and geographic distribution of human claims on water resources. We employ the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), an integrated assessment model to explore the interactions of energy, land and water systems in the context of alternative policies to limit climate change to three alternative levels: 2.5 Wm-2 (445 ppm CO2-e), 3.5 Wm-2 ... continued below

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Chaturvedi, Vaibhav; Hejazi, Mohamad I.; Edmonds, James A.; Clarke, Leon E.; Kyle, G. Page; Davies, Evan et al. March 28, 2013.

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Energy, water and land are scarce resources, critical to humans. Developments in each affect the availability and cost of the others, and consequently human prosperity. Measures to limit greenhouse gas concentrations will inevitably exact dramatic changes on energy and land systems and in turn alter the character, magnitude and geographic distribution of human claims on water resources. We employ the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), an integrated assessment model to explore the interactions of energy, land and water systems in the context of alternative policies to limit climate change to three alternative levels: 2.5 Wm-2 (445 ppm CO2-e), 3.5 Wm-2 (535 ppm CO2-e) and 4.5 Wm-2 (645 ppm CO2-e). We explore the effects of two alternative land-use emissions mitigation policy options—one which taxes terrestrial carbon emissions equally with fossil fuel and industrial emissions, and an alternative which only taxes fossil fuel and industrial emissions but places no penalty on land-use change emissions. We find that increasing populations and economic growth could be anticipated to almost triple demand for water for agricultural systems across the century even in the absence of climate policy. In general policies to mitigate climate change increase agricultural demands for water still further, though the largest changes occur in the second half of the century, under both policy regimes. The two policies examined profoundly affected both the sources and magnitudes of the increase in irrigation water demands. The largest increases in agricultural irrigation water demand occurred in scenarios where only fossil fuel emissions were priced (but not land-use change emission) and were primarily driven by rapid expansion in bioenergy production. In these scenarios water demands were large relative to present-day total available water, calling into question whether it would be physically possible to produce the associated biomass energy. We explored the potential of improved water delivery and irrigation system efficiencies. These could potentially reduce demands substantially. However, overall demands remained high under our fossil-fuel-only tax policy. In contrast, when all carbon was priced, increases in agricultural water demands were smaller than under the fossil-fuel-only policy and were driven primarily by increased demands for water by non-biomass crops such as rice. Finally we estimate the geospatial pattern of water demands and find that regions such as China, India and other countries in south and east Asia might be expected to experience greatest increases in water demands.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-22356
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1097334 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1097334
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc867328

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  • March 28, 2013

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 16, 2016, 12:32 a.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 10:34 p.m.

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Chaturvedi, Vaibhav; Hejazi, Mohamad I.; Edmonds, James A.; Clarke, Leon E.; Kyle, G. Page; Davies, Evan et al. Climate policy implications for agricultural water demand, report, March 28, 2013; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc867328/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.