Potential of land-based climate change mitigation strategies on abandoned cropland

Natural revegetation, afforestation, and lignocellulosic crops for bioenergy, possibly coupled with a developing technology like carbon capture and storage, are the most common land-based climate change mitigation options. However, they can compete for land and threaten food security or nature conservation. Using abandoned cropland for their deployment can minimize these risks, but associated potentials are unclear. Here, we compare alternative land-based mitigation options by integrating historical and future (up to 2050) abandoned cropland with site-specific biomass yields and life-cycle emissions. Considering natural revegetation in biodiversity priority areas and different measures in the remaining land can achieve a mitigation potential of 0.8–4.0 GtCO2-equivalents yr−1 (2–11% of 2021 global CO2 emissions). Afforestation generally provides larger climate benefits than bioenergy, but bioenergy with carbon capture and storage delivers the highest mitigation in most locations. Overall, these results offer refined estimates of mitigation potentials from abandoned cropland and highlight opportunities for context-specific mitigation measures.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Communications Earth & Environment, 2023, available online at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43247-023-00696-7 . Keywords: climate-change mitigation; environmental impact.
Gvein, M.H., Hu, X., Næss, J.S. et al. Potential of land-based climate change mitigation strategies on abandoned cropland. Commun Earth Environ 4, 39 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-023-00696-7