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Carbon Sequestration, Co-Benefits, and Conservation Programs

Land use changes to sequester carbon also provide "co-benefits," some of which (for example, water quality) have attracted at least as much attention as carbon storage. The non-separability of these co-benefits presents a challenge for policy design. If carbon markets are employed, then social efficiency will depend on how we take into account co-benefits, that is, externalities, in such markets. If carbon sequestration is incorporated into conservation programs, then the weight given to carbon sequestration relative to its co-benefits will partly shape these programs. Using the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as an example, we show that CRP has been sequestering carbon, which was not an intended objective of the program. We also demonstrate that more carbon would have been sequestered had CRP targeted this objective, although the "co-benefits" would have increased or decreased.

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Paper provided by Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University in its series Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) Publications with number 04-wp379.

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Date of creation: Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ias:cpaper:04-wp379
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  1. Matthews, Stephen & O'Connor, Raymond & Plantinga, Andrew J., 2002. "Quantifying the impacts on biodiversity of policies for carbon sequestration in forests," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 71-87, January.
  2. Butt, Tanveer A. & McCarl, Bruce A., 2004. "Farm and Forest Carbon Sequestration: Can Producers Employ it to Make Some Money?," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 19(3).
  3. Feng, Hongli & Kurkalova, Lyubov A. & Kling, Catherine L. & Gassman, Philip W., 2005. "Environmental Conservation in Agriculture: Land Retirement Versus Changing Practices on Working Land," Staff General Research Papers 12441, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Andrew J. Plantinga & JunJie Wu, 2003. "Co-Benefits from Carbon Sequestration in Forests: Evaluating Reductions in Agricultural Externalities from an Afforestation Policy in Wisconsin," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 79(1), pages 74-85.
  5. Kurkalova, Lyubov A. & Kling, Catherine L. & Zhao, Jinhua, 2003. "Multiple Benefits of Carbon-Friendly Agricultural Practices: Empirical Assessment of Conservation Tillage in Iowa," Staff General Research Papers 10194, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  6. Schneider, Uwe A. & Kumar, Pushpam, 2008. "Greenhouse Gas Mitigation through Agriculture," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 23(1).
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