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Journal Article

A protein transition can free up land to tap vast energy and negative emission potentials


Rueda,  Oscar
External Organizations;

Mogollón,  José M.
External Organizations;


Stenzel,  Fabian
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Tukker,  Arnold
External Organizations;

Scherer,  Laura
External Organizations;

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Rueda, O., Mogollón, J. M., Stenzel, F., Tukker, A., Scherer, L. (2024): A protein transition can free up land to tap vast energy and negative emission potentials. - One Earth, 7, 2, 293-310.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29739
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) can help stabilize the climate by extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing renewable energy. However, biomass availability would limit the potential of BECCS, and biomass cropland expansion may threaten biodiversity, food security, and water supply. Replacing land-intensive foods can help unlock sustainable biomass production. Here, we estimated BECCS energy and negative emissions using biomass grown on freed-up land when replacing animal-source foods. Biomass production excludes agricultural expansion to protect biodiversity, ensures enough food supply globally to safeguard food security, and constrains irrigation to secure water for people and ecosystems. Negative emissions consider supply chain emissions and the forgone sequestration from natural revegetation. Results show that replacing 50% of animal products by 2050 could release enough land for BECCS to generate 26.4–39.5 EJelec/year, the scale of coal power today, while removing 5.9–9.3 GtCO2e/year from the atmosphere, almost what coal power emits today.