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The implications for energy crops under China's climate change challenges

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Abstract: This study investigated future bioenergy supply and demand from energy crops in China using the GCAM-integrated assessment model under different climate policy scenarios. The results indicated that China has rich resources of energy crops and marginal land for developing bioenergy. Under future carbon related policies, bioenergy production will considerably increase as projected by the GCAM. Current marginal land can completely meet the future bioenergy demand from energy crops by the end of this century in China. Although a high carbon tax would increase the agricultural market price, the bioenergy price does not affect the production of crop residue from which energy is generated. Also cultivated land resources would not be affected by increased competition for land from energy crops. In addition, forest areas will be preserved and greatly expand in China owing to the increased value of terrestrial carbon, and cropland will increase and expand into pasture, grasslands and other arable land. This conversion peaks in 2050 and decreases until 2090 in response to the increasing incomes and population in China. Climate policies with carbon taxes that include terrestrial carbon will likely reduce emissions from land-use changes, although land-use restrictions may lead to greater upward pressure on crop prices. Net cumulative emissions of land-use changes under two mitigation policies will be negative in 2050 and further decrease thereafter. It is important to note that energy crops and BECCS cause relatively low-cost to reduce carbon emissions. Efforts on policy designing to support cultivation of energy crops and to promote research and deployment of BECCS should be ramped up.

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