Designing policies to mitigate the agricultural contribution to climate change: an assessment of soil based carbon sequestration and its ancillary effects
Soil carbon sequestration has been regarded as a cheap and cost-effective way to sequester carbon until other technologies to tackle climate change become available or more cost-effective. An assessment of the social desirability of a soil carbon sequestration policy requires the consideration of all associated social costs and benefits. Measures to re-accumulate carbon in soils have ancillary or co-effects on the environment that can be beneficial or detrimental to social welfare and few of which are traded in markets. This paper discusses issues related to the development of soil carbon sequestration policies into agri-environmental schemes and reports findings from an application of a choice experiment to elicit preferences and estimate benefits of a soil carbon programme in Scotland under consideration of co-effects on biodiversity and rural viability. Preferences for soil carbon based mitigation are found to be heterogeneous and related to beliefs about climate change and attitudes towards its mitigation. Benefit estimates suggest that including co-effects can significantly change the outcome of cost–benefit tests. Implications for the development of climate change policies are discussed.
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