Evaluating the effects of climate change on US agricultural systems
Sensitivity to regional impact and trade expansion scenarios
Baker, J. S., Havlik, P., Beach, R., Leclere, D., Schmid, E., Valin, H., Cole, J., Creason, J., Ohrel, S., & McFarland, J. (2018). Evaluating the effects of climate change on US agricultural systems: Sensitivity to regional impact and trade expansion scenarios. Environmental Research Letters, 13(6), Article 064019. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aac1c2
Agriculture is one of the sectors that is expected to be most significantly impacted by climate change. There has been considerable interest in assessing these impacts and many recent studies investigating agricultural impacts for individual countries and regions using an array of models. However, the great majority of existing studies explore impacts on a country or region of interest without explicitly accounting for impacts on the rest of the world. This approach can bias the results of impact assessments for agriculture given the importance of global trade in this sector. Due to potential impacts on relative competitiveness, international trade, global supply, and prices, the net impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector in each region depend not only on productivity impacts within that region, but on how climate change impacts agricultural productivity throughout the world. In this study, we apply a global model of agriculture and forestry to evaluate climate change impacts on US agriculture with and without accounting for climate change impacts in the rest of the world. In addition, we examine scenarios where trade is expanded to explore the implications for regional allocation of production, trade volumes, and prices. To our knowledge, this is one of the only attempts to explicitly quantify the relative importance of accounting for global climate change when conducting regional assessments of climate change impacts. The results of our analyses reveal substantial differences in estimated impacts on the US agricultural sector when accounting for global impacts vs. US-only impacts, particularly for commodities where the United States has a smaller share of global production. In addition, we find that freer trade can play an important role in helping to buffer regional productivity shocks.