Identifying low emissions development pathways

Identifying low emissions development pathways includes global and regional analyses. (Image from Kleinwechter 2015 presentation).
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CCAFS is working together with International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to identify low emissions agricultural pathways and priorities for climate change mitigation in agricultural landscapes using integrated assessment modelling (the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) and scenarios.

In 2013 and 2014, the project focused on calculating the extent of agricultural mitigation necessary in developing countries and the effect of selected emissions floors on meeting future climate target thresholds. In 2015, the team conduced a spatial analysis of mitigation priorities globally for selected policy pathways. In 2015 and 2016, the project is determining a target for agricultural mitigation and assessing the necessity of mitigation globally and regionally in the agriculture sector. All results aim to serve as resources that can help guide national decision-making and investment in LED pathways and agricultural development. 

Outcomes and Impact

Thus far, the models have shown that agriculture is necessary to meet targets after 2050 when the energy sector has been decarbonized. Building on the modelling, scenarios will yield globally consistent regional climate mitigation strategies, including the necessity of regional participation to meet climate goals and policy implications for country INDCs and mitigation plans.

Primary users of the research are: 1) national agricultural decision-makers; 2) investors in agricultural development, including development banks, private finance, and farmers’ associations; and 3) advocates for sustainable and low emissions food systems, including NGOs such as the Environmental Defense Fund and the Rainforest Alliance.

The most significant sources of GHG emissions and mitigation potentials (considering carbon removals and avoided future emissions) from agriculture and land-use sectors have been identified. However, in many cases the impact of low emissions development (LED) on food production, livelihoods and equity – in short on trade-offs – is still being studied. This project will inform decision-makers to ensure that LED is achieved while protecting food security and livelihoods and increasing gender equity.


Havlik P, Valin H, Husti M, Schmid E, Leclere D, Forsell N, Herrero M, Khabarov N, Mosnier A, Cantele M, Obersteiner M. 2015. Climate change impacts and mitigation in the developing world: an integrated assessment of the agriculture and forestry sectors. Policy Research Working Paper 7477. Washington DC: World Bank.

Kleinwechter U, Levesque A, Havlík P, Forsell N, Zhang Y, Fricko O, Obersteiner M. 2015. Global food efficiency of climate change mitigation in agriculture. Abstract for the International Conference of Agricultural Economists, August 8-14, Milao, Italy.

Levesque, A. 2014. Climate regime, AFOLU mitigation and carbon-food efficiency. M.Sc. Thesis, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Master Economie du Développement Durable, de l’Energie et de l’Environnement, 2013-1024


Wollenberg E, Richards M, Havlik P, Smith P, Tubiello F, Carter S. Herold M. 2015. Will sustainable intensification help us avoid exceeding 2 degreed C? Presentation from the Global Science Conference for Climate-Smart Agriculture 2015, Montpellier, France.

Kleinwechter U, Havlík P, Forsell N, Gusti M, Zhang YW, Oliver Fricko, Keywan Riahi, Michael Obersteiner. 2015. Assessing low emissions development pathways for the agricultural and land use sector. Presentation from Our Common Future under Climate Change Conference 2015, Paris, France.

Havlík P, Forsell N, Zhang YW, Kleinwechter U, Fricko O, Riahi K, Obersteiner M. 2014. Regional Development versus Global Mitigation: Insights from GLOBIOM.Presentation from 7th Annual IAMC Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, 17 November.

Kleinwechter U. 2014. Agriculture and Forest Sector Long-Term Outlook from GLOBIOM. Presentation at the Strategic Foresight Conference at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, 7 November.


The project team consists of IIASA and CCAFS and also receives support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


Considerations and analysis of LED trade-offs and benefits involving protection and growth of food security and livelihoods include gender.

Further information

Julianna White: