As the world seeks to confront climate change, conserve biodiversity and end hunger, policymakers will need to influence the way individuals use and manage the earth’s land. A common policy proposal is to create financial incentives that encourage private landowners to address climate impacts in their land-use decision making, for example, by paying landowners to plant trees on their property. Such incentives could encourage a variety of land-based climate solutions (LBCS, a type of natural climate solutions), including reduced deforestation, increased afforestation, or enhanced soil carbon sequestration through changes in agricultural practices. However, economic, institutional, political and cultural systems vary among different countries, which would likely affect the land use outcomes that result from LBCS incentive programs. Different types of outcomes will lead to a range of implications for local biodiversity, agricultural production, and food prices.
Unfortunately, little evidence exists on the scale of this variation, and on LBCS programs’ ability to mitigate climate change. As a result, the aggregate scale and distribution of economically feasible LBCS programs remain uncertain. To fill this gap, we are conducting an econometric analysis that explores how responsive land use decisions are to market prices, with the aim to inform a framework of global deployment of LBCS incentive programs.