Defended thesis

“Integrating agriculture into the Chinese mitigation policies”, Wen Wang

Published on 15 January 2015


January 2015

Wen Wang defended her PhD : “Integrating agriculture into the Chinese mitigation policies” at Paris Dauphine University.

This thesis provides an integrated evaluation of the overall technical and economic mitigation potential in Chinese agriculture and the conditions of putting a carbon price in this sector. The research scope is cropland emissions and particularly those related to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use. The thesis is articulated around the construction of a bottom-up marginal abatement cost curve (MACC) which offers a rational framework for combining biophysical and economic data to reflect mitigation costs and potentials. This tool allows the aggregation of mitigation potentials arising from the application of a subset of cost-effective measures above a notional baseline level. An analysis of Chinese climate policies reveals that agriculture is nearly absent in the current national mitigation strategy. We therefore intend to assess the technical, economic and political feasibility of integrating agriculture into domestic mitigation policies. In the first place, the emissions trends and calculation methods are assessed to determine a rigorous approach to build baseline scenarios from projected business-as-usual activities to 2020. Secondly, we identify nine cropland mitigation measures and evaluate their abatement rates and future applicability beyond the baseline scenario to conclude a total feasible technical mitigation potential. The economic potential of each scenario is then compared by using estimated implementation costs of different mitigation measures relative to conventional farming practices. The MACC results show that agriculture provides significant mitigation potentials and is able to offset about one-third of the baseline emissions. In addition, realisation of one-third of this mitigation potential is cost-negative for farmers. We finally examine the conditions of using economic instruments to reduce emissions at the lowest cost for the agricultural sector. Given the institutional, behavioural and social obstacles, we strongly suggest restructuring the current fertilizer subsidy regime to send a clear political signal from central planning. Scaling-up offset projects using carbon intensity as the standardized baseline is recommended and could pave the way for an experimental emission trading scheme in agriculture. In light of China’s strong concern on safeguarding its food security, case studies on regional cereal production are carried out in all steps, including the analysis of provincial greenhouse gas intensity of production, regional abatement potential related to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer use as well as disparities of implementation cost among certain regions.

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