Modern agriculture faces considerable challenges with many people currently lacking easy access to food or suffering malnourishment. Alleviation of this depends on food accessibility as well as availability. Global demand for crop production is rising driven by an increasing population, a shift in diet towards meat and dairy consumption and increasing biofuel consumption. Meeting this increasing future demand would require agricultural production to double by the 2050s.
Future emission pathways consistent with stabilising global temperatures below 2°C often require deployment of large-scale bio-energy and bio-energy carbon capture and storage (BECCS), as well as conserving terrestrial carbon stores These requirements put pressure on land to be converted to grow biofuels or set aside for afforestation.
Producing food whilst adapting to and mitigating climate through deployment of bio-energy is a huge challenge, particularly when combined with a growing and developing population.
We present two modelled future agricultural land scenarios, in which the amount of agricultural land for food either remains stable over the 21st Century or declines. These scenarios are consistent with those requiring large-scale BECCS deployment, such as those that provide a greater than 50% chance of limiting warming to below 2°C in 2100.