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Journal Article

Food security under high bioenergy demand toward long-term climate goals


Hasegawa,  Tomoko
External Organizations;

Sands,  Ronald D.
External Organizations;

Brunelle,  Thierry
External Organizations;

Cui,  Yiyun
External Organizations;

Frank,  Stefan
External Organizations;

Fujimori,  Shinichiro
External Organizations;


Popp,  Alexander
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Hasegawa, T., Sands, R. D., Brunelle, T., Cui, Y., Frank, S., Fujimori, S., Popp, A. (2020): Food security under high bioenergy demand toward long-term climate goals. - Climatic Change, 163, 3, 1587-1601.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_24824
Bioenergy is expected to play an important role in the achievement of stringent climate-change mitigation targets requiring the application of negative emissions technology. Using a multi-model framework, we assess the effects of high bioenergy demand on global food production, food security, and competition for agricultural land. Various scenarios simulate global bioenergy demands of 100, 200, 300, and 400 exajoules (EJ) by 2100, with and without a carbon price. Six global energy-economy-agriculture models contribute to this study, with different methodologies and technologies used for bioenergy supply and greenhouse-gas mitigation options for agriculture. We find that the large-scale use of bioenergy, if not implemented properly, would raise food prices and increase the number of people at risk of hunger in many areas of the world. For example, an increase in global bioenergy demand from 200 to 300 EJ causes a − 11% to + 40% change in food crop prices and decreases food consumption from − 45 to − 2 kcal person−1 day−1, leading to an additional 0 to 25 million people at risk of hunger compared with the case of no bioenergy demand (90th percentile range across models). This risk does not rule out the intensive use of bioenergy but shows the importance of its careful implementation, potentially including regulations that protect cropland for food production or for the use of bioenergy feedstock on land that is not competitive with food production.