Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 545–570 | Cite as

Confronting the Food–Energy–Environment Trilemma: Global Land Use in the Long Run

  • Jevgenijs SteinbuksEmail author
  • Thomas W. Hertel


Economic, agronomic, and biophysical drivers affect global land use, so all three influences need to be considered in evaluating economically optimal allocations of the world’s land resources. A dynamic, forward-looking optimization framework applied over the course of the coming century shows that although some deforestation is optimal in the near term, in the absence of climate change regulation, the desirability of further deforestation is eliminated by mid-century. Although adverse productivity shocks from climate change have a modest effect on global land use, such shocks combined with rapid growth in energy prices lead to significant deforestation and higher greenhouse gas emissions than in the baseline. Imposition of a global greenhouse gas emissions constraint further heightens the competition for land, as fertilizer use declines and land-based mitigation strategies expand. However, anticipation of the constraint largely dilutes its environmental effectiveness, as deforestation accelerates prior to imposition of the target.


Biofuels Climate change Deforestation Energy Environment Food Forestry GHG emissions Global land use 

JEL Classification

C61 Q15 Q23 Q26 Q40 Q54 



We would like to thank Yongyang Cai, Ujjayant Chakravorty, Alla Golub, Kenneth Judd, Todd Munson, Paul Preckel, Brent Sohngen, Farzad Taheripour, Wally Tyner, two anonymous reviewers, and the participants of the 4th International Workshop on Empirical Methods in Energy Economics, the American Geophysical Union Annual Meetings, the American Economic Association Annual Meetings, Cowles Summer Conference “Macroeconomics and Climate Change”, and research seminars at Purdue University and the World Bank for their helpful suggestions and comments. We appreciate the financial support from the National Science Foundation, Grant 0951576 “DMUU: Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy”.

Supplementary material

10640_2014_9848_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 2123 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Development Research GroupThe World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Global Trade AnalysisPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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