Climatic Change

, Volume 146, Issue 3–4, pp 517–531 | Cite as

Avoided economic impacts of climate change on agriculture: integrating a land surface model (CLM) with a global economic model (iPETS)

  • Xiaolin RenEmail author
  • Matthias Weitzel
  • Brian C. O’Neill
  • Peter Lawrence
  • Prasanth Meiyappan
  • Samuel Levis
  • Edward J. Balistreri
  • Michael Dalton


Crop yields are vulnerable to climate change. We assess the global impacts of climate change on agricultural systems under two climate projections (RCP8.5 and RCP4.5) to quantify the difference in impacts if climate change were reduced. We also employ two different socioeconomic pathways (SSP3 and SSP5) to assess the sensitivity of results to the underlying socioeconomic conditions. The integrated-Population-Economy-Technology-Science (iPETS) model, a global integrated assessment model for projecting future energy use, land use and emissions, is used in conjunction with the Community Earth System Model (CESM), and particularly its land surface component, the Community Land Model (CLM), to evaluate climate change impacts on agriculture. iPETS results are produced at the level of nine world regions for the period 2005–2100. We employ climate impacts on crop yield derived from CLM, driven by CESM simulations of the two RCPs. These yield effects are applied within iPETS, imposed on baseline and mitigation scenarios for SSP3 and SSP5 that are consistent with the RCPs. We find that the reduced level of warming in RCP4.5 (relative to RCP8.5) can have either positive or negative effects on the economy since crop yield either increases or decreases with climate change depending on assumptions about CO2 fertilization. Yields are up to 12 % lower, and crop prices are up to 15 % higher, in RCP4.5 relative to RCP8.5 if CO2 fertilization is included, whereas yields are up to 22 % higher, and crop prices up to 22 % lower, if it is not. We also find that in the mitigation scenarios (RCP4.5), crop prices are substantially affected by mitigation actions as well as by climate impacts. For the scenarios we evaluated, the development pathway (SSP3 vs SSP5) has a larger impact on outcomes than climate (RCP4.5 vs RCP8.5), by a factor of 3 for crop prices, 11 for total cropland use, and 35 for GDP on global average.


Avoided impacts Climate change Crop yields CO2 fertilization Integrated assessment 



This paper is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number AGS-1243095. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the funders.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1791_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.9 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1.91 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaolin Ren
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthias Weitzel
    • 1
  • Brian C. O’Neill
    • 1
  • Peter Lawrence
    • 1
  • Prasanth Meiyappan
    • 2
  • Samuel Levis
    • 3
  • Edward J. Balistreri
    • 4
  • Michael Dalton
    • 5
  1. 1.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA
  3. 3.The Climate CorporationSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Colorado School of MinesGoldenUSA
  5. 5.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)SeattleUSA

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