Impact of bioenergy crops in a carbon dioxide constrained world: an application of the MiniCAM energy-agriculture and land use model

  • Kenneth T. Gillingham
  • Steven J. Smith
  • Ronald D. Sands
Original Article


In the coming century, modern bioenergy crops have the potential to play a crucial role in the global energy mix, especially under policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as proposed by many in the international community. Previous studies have not fully addressed many of the dynamic interactions and effects of a policy-induced expansion of bioenergy crop production, particularly on crop yields and human food demand. This study combines an updated agriculture and land use (AgLU) model with a well-developed energy-economic model to provide an analysis of the effects of bioenergy crops on energy, agricultural and land use systems. The results indicate that carbon dioxide mitigation policies can stimulate a large production of bioenergy crops, dependent on the level of the policy. This production of bioenergy crops can lead to several impacts on the agriculture and land use system: decreases in forestland and unmanaged land, decreases in the average yield of food crops, increases in the prices of food crops, and decreases in the level of human demand of calories.


Bioenergy Global energy scenarios Climate change Carbon dioxide Integrated assessment 



The authors would like to acknowledge Karen Fisher-Vanden of Dartmouth College and Hugh Pitcher of the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) for helpful ideas at the germination stage of this paper. We would also like to thank Allison Thomson of JGCRI for reviewing this paper and providing additional comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth T. Gillingham
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven J. Smith
    • 1
  • Ronald D. Sands
    • 1
  1. 1.Joint Global Change Research InstituteCollege ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management Science and EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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