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Title: Climate Mitigation Policy Implications for Global Irrigation Water Demand

Energy, water and land are scarce resources, critical to humans. Developments in each affect the availability and cost of the others, and consequently human prosperity. Measures to limit greenhouse gas concentrations will inevitably exact dramatic changes on energy and land systems and in turn alter the character, magnitude and geographic distribution of human claims on water resources. We employ the Global Change Assessment Model (GCAM), an integrated assessment model to explore the interactions of energy, land and water systems in the context of alternative policies to limit climate change to three alternative levels: 2.5 Wm-2 (445 ppm CO2-e), 3.5 Wm-2 (535 ppm CO2-e) and 4.5 Wm-2 (645 ppm CO2-e). We explore the effects of alternative land-use emissions mitigation policy options—one which values terrestrial carbon emissions equally with fossil fuel and industrial emissions, and an alternative which places no penalty on land-use change emissions. We find that increasing populations and economic growth could be anticipated to lead to increased demand for water for agricultural systems (+200%), even in the absence of climate change. In general policies to mitigate climate change will increase agricultural demands for water, regardless of whether or not terrestrial carbon is valued or not. Burgeoning demands for watermore » are driven by the demand for bioenergy in response to emissions mitigation policies. We also find that the policy matters. Increases in the demand for water when terrestrial carbon emissions go un-prices are vastly larger than when terrestrial system carbon emissions are prices at the same rate as fossil fuel and industrial emissions. Our estimates for increased water demands when terrestrial carbon systems go un-priced are larger than earlier studies. We find that the deployment of improved irrigation delivery systems could mitigate some of the increase in water demands, but cannot reverse the increases in water demands when terrestrial carbon emissions go un-priced. Finally we estimates that the geospatial pattern of water demands could stress some parts of the world, e.g. China, India and other countries in south and east Asia, earlier and more intensely than in other parts of the world, e.g. North America.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 20(3):389-407
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
climate policy; agriculture water; integrated assessment; bioenergy