Global Decarbonization: Negative Agricultural Impacts

From MasterResource

By Craig D. Idso — September 15, 2022

“… a $150 per ton of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) tax [is estimated to globally] … increase the price of milk by approximately 49 percent, the price of rice by 67 percent, and the price of beef by a whopping 108 percent.”

Over the course of my career I have often been asked by concerned persons if there is any downside to implementing CO2 emission reduction policies on the off-chance that model projections of future climate change might be right. These well-meaning individuals do not necessarily believe or buy into the mantra of global warming extremism, they simply seek some sort of an insurance policy to defuse fears accumulated from the constant flow of projections of a forthcoming climate apocalypse.

And so it is when legislation like the recent U.S. Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 comes up for debate, they stay silent or simply go along with the crowd, assuming or wanting to believe that such legislation is just the insurance policy they have hoped for.

But it isn’t. Nor does it represent the end to efforts to curb CO2 emissions, for it has been openly stated since the days of the Obama Administration that the end game of climate alarmism has little to do with saving or improving the environment, but everything to do with legislating fossil fuel use into oblivion. And that objective brings some rather serious repercussions upon society.

Consider, for example, the fact that fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) presently account for approximately 84% of all global energy production and 63% of global electricity production. By legislating these resources into oblivion without a sufficient supply of alternative resources to replace them, such policies are creating scarcity in the market, which scarcity will undoubtedly result in higher energy prices. Consequently, any commodity or product downstream of energy production will be impacted by higher costs—ergo we have at least one significant downside to enacting CO2 emission reduction schemes.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the agricultural sector of the economy, which relies on low-cost energy to produce food and other products necessary to sustaining life on the planet. As the costs to produce agricultural products increase, those costs are passed on to the consumer, thereby reducing disposable household income, which reduction also disproportionately burdens the poor.

In recent months we have all experienced the sour taste of this unfortunate chain of events to one degree or another as we have dealt with rising gas prices that helped contribute to inflated food prices. Yet that experience represents only the tip of the iceberg compared to what is coming if CO2 emission reduction polices are not reversed and altogether abandoned.

In this regard, Figure 1a shows the results of a peer-reviewed study by Frank et al., who examined the impact of a fairly strict CO2 emission reduction policy on the agricultural sector. What they found is that a $150 per ton of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) tax significantly increased the price of important food commodities. Averaged for the world as a whole, for example, such a tax would increase the price of milk by approximately 49 percent, the price of rice by 67 percent and the price of beef by a whopping 108 percent.

Figure 1. Relative price impact of a $150 per tCO2e carbon tax on emissions from agriculture on global commodity prices (panel a) and regional food price index (panel b). CIS-Commonwealth of Independent States, EAS-East Asia, EU28-European Union, LAM-Latin America, MEN-Middle East and North Africa, NAM-North America, OCE-Oceania, SAS-South Asia, SEA-South East Asia, SSA-Sub-Saharan Africa, WLD-World. Adapted from Frank et al. (2017).

As a result of the researchers’ findings, they estimate the global food price index would rise by nearly 40 percent in response to a carbon tax of this magnitude (see Figure 1b). Larger increases from 60 to 100 percent are projected for Oceania, South East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Sadly, these regions harbor the least efficient agricultural production systems and their inhabitants will therefore bear a disproportionate burden of the globally-averaged projected increase in the food price index. But higher food prices are not the only negative outcome tied to this scenario.

Figure 2 depicts the relationship between greenhouse gas mitigation targets and global average calorie consumption projected for the year 2050. As seen there, as one follows the blue line to the right, increasingly ambitious efforts to stabilize the climate by means of a carbon tax (or any other CO2 emission reduction scheme for that matter) result in greater reductions in daily dietary energy for the average human. Using the IPCC’s Representative Concentration Pathway (or RCP) scenario that limits future projected warming to 1.5°C, for example, we find that a $190 per ton of CO2 equivalent tax reduces daily caloric intake by 285 kilocalories per capita per day, amounting to a 9 percent caloric decline. At first glance, this decrease may not appear to be all that important, but it translates into a 300 million person increase in the global number of chronically undernourished persons, which represents a whopping 150% increase above those presently occupying this category!

Figure 2. Global annual mitigation potential for the agriculture, forestry, and other land use sector (AFOLU) in GtCO2eq yr-1 in 2050 vs. global average loss in daily dietary energy (kcal per capita per day) consumption, compared to a baseline scenario without mitigation efforts. The blue line represents policies where all countries participate to achieve increasingly ambitious climate stabilization targets. Text adjacent to the blue squares indicates the carbon price (tax) associated in achieving climate stabilization for a given representative concentration pathway (RCP) and its associated global temperature reduction in 2050. Adapted from Frank et al. (2017).


There is a clear downside to pricing CO2 emissions. It is not only detrimental throughout multiple sectors of the economy, but at increasingly ambitious levels it leads to trade-offs with food security and human health. Unfortunately, it will probably take a much deeper trip down the CO2 emission reduction rabbit hole than we are presently witnessing before society feels the true pain of these schemes and wises up to stop it.


Frank, S., Havlík, P., Soussana, J.-F., Levesque, A., Valin, H., Wollenberg, E., Kleinwechter, U., Fricko, O., Gusti, M., Herrero, M., Smith, P., Hasegawa, T., Kraxner, F., and Obersteiner, M. 2017. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security? Environmental Research Letters 12: 105004.

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September 15, 2022 10:51 am

The United States of America has already reduced CO2 emissions by 600 million metric tons in the last 15 years. So far, any positive results as measured in the atmosphere have been nothing. NADA.

At some point, people will realize they are being robbed. Because when your money is forcibly taken for nothing in exchange, that’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t matter who does it.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Doonman
September 15, 2022 10:54 am

I wouldn’t classify CO2 reduction as a “positive result,” please don’t feed their delusions.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
September 15, 2022 11:40 am

Sorry, but that is the only intent of CO2 mitigation. Less CO2 = Less global warming = positive result.

Steve Case
Reply to  Doonman
September 15, 2022 12:51 pm

Sorry, but that is the only intent of CO2 mitigation. Less CO2 = Less global warming = positive result.

A warmer world with longer growing seasons, more rain, more arable land plus more CO2 to augment basic agricultural production, is not a negative.

Reply to  Steve Case
September 16, 2022 5:42 pm

That is not the narrative of CAGW. Catastrophe is. Those who wish to mitigate CO2 claim to avoid catastrophe. There is no other reason.

Steve Case
Reply to  Doonman
September 15, 2022 10:54 am

At some point, people will realize they are being robbed.

And at some point, people will realize they are being lied to.

Reply to  Steve Case
September 15, 2022 12:14 pm

Looking at some of the wildly flagrant lies that are being told by some (US inflation rate is 0, people are not walking across the border), it is clear they believe 50% of the voters are complete morons. Considering today’s 57-gender society I have to agree. Forget about a fountain of youth, we need a fountain of smart, or this civilization has peaked and is going rapidly downhill.

Reply to  Jtom
September 15, 2022 6:28 pm

George Carlin said it well.

Reply to  Steve Case
September 15, 2022 2:03 pm

A lot of people don’t mind the lies.

A lot of people, being on the same team, don’t mind the cheating and embrace the lies.

(This happens all the time, in all aspects … look at the Chris Paul fans)

Perry Smith
Reply to  Steve Case
September 15, 2022 2:57 pm

And at some point – revolution.

Steve Case
Reply to  Perry Smith
September 15, 2022 5:47 pm

And at some point – revolution.

The USSR took 70 years to collapse.

Besides, what would a revolution look like.

Reply to  Doonman
September 15, 2022 11:15 am

I wonder what will happen when…
All sorts of draconian CO2 restrictions are put in place, food prices sky rocket, energy prices rise dramatically, there are intermittent black-outs.
And the Keeling curve keeps rising at the same slope? (as if natural CO2 fluxed dominate)?
Or, if the Keeling curve bends down, and temperatures rise? (as if the scare models were incorrect)

What will be the response of the crushed down people?
And the lying politicians?

Reply to  Doonman
September 16, 2022 8:47 am

The United States of America has already reduced CO2 emissions by 600 million metric tons in the last 15 years.”

The problem is that China increased its CO2 emissions by more than that to the point that they are higher than the peak of US emissions. That our ‘betters’ expect us to cripple ourselves in order to offset increasing Chinese emissions shows us their real intentions.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  DCE
September 17, 2022 1:30 pm

The actual intent is, as a current Democrat congressional candidate is on tape saying, to “stymie capitalism”. China is not a capitalist country, and rapidly becoming even less so, thus no need to be concerned with their actions.

AGW is Not Science
September 15, 2022 10:51 am

The evil people pushing ‘climate’ policies will, when they think only “friendly” ears are listening, talk about how this is a ‘good thing,’ in their typical Malaysian world view.

Of course, whenever insisting that human population needs to be reduced, they never look in the mirror for volunteers to accomplish said “reduction.”

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
September 15, 2022 10:55 am


Old Man Winter
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
September 15, 2022 1:01 pm

Climate change is the least of our worries!

September 15, 2022 11:04 am

Unfortunately, you only describe half the problem. The output from the farms is also under attack. The high yields we currently have are due to modified grains and more importantly fertilizer and pesticides. Since these are based on carbon based inputs, they will be in short supply. This will reduce output which will bring about food shortages and large scale famine. My daughter in law likes to throw the deaths of millions in my face and I counter with billions due to this insane idea about AGW.

Reply to  Mason
September 15, 2022 12:27 pm

But without those inputs you can call your output “organic” and raise prices.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Mason
September 15, 2022 12:32 pm

What “millions” of deaths is she referring to?

Reply to  Pat from kerbob
September 16, 2022 5:52 pm

Over 5 billion people alive today will all be dead by 2100

Reply to  Mason
September 15, 2022 3:13 pm

I agree with you Mason.
I have been farming all my life in New Zealand which exports food to the world to feed 6 times our population..
Agricultural exports are by far our main exports.Tourism and timber are the other earners of over seas funds .
Our government pushed by the mad Greens are hell bent on taxing so called carbon emissions ( METHANE ) from our farmed livestock .
If they succeed we will be the first country in the world to do this .
Just take a minute to think logically .
All fodder consumed by farmed live stock has absorbed C02 .
The tiny amount of methane emitted during digestion is broken down in the upper atmosphere into water vapour and CO2 in 8 to 10 years .
The process is a closed cycle and can never raise methane or CO2 levels .
The UN stated that countries are not to take actions to reduce carbon emissions that THREATEN food production.
The other crazy way that our quasi communist led government is trying to stuff our country is encouraging CARBON farming .
What the HELL is carbon farming ?
It is encouraging investors to by up food producing land and plant in pine trees that will never be harvested .
The HELL will come in 40 years time when these forests catch fire and burn .
The theory is that our native forests will grow under the pines and se- quest carbon into the future .
If sanity does not prevail around the world very soon food will become very dear or very scarce or both.
These politicians should be made to answer for their blunders in the future but they will say they were trying to save the world but they stuffed it instead .

Reply to  Mason
September 16, 2022 10:58 am

Moonbat is now attacking organic as well

The most damaging farm products? Organic, pasture-fed beef and lamb
George Monbiot

Rud Istvan
September 15, 2022 11:31 am

On my Wisconsin dairy farm, the three main input costs are fertilizer, diesel fuel, and seed. Depending on which subtype, nitrogen fertilizer almost tripled this year from last, and diesel has doubled. Next years corn, alfalfa, and soybean seed will also about double, since their main cost inputs this year are the same as the row crops last years seed enabled planting this year. That means that dairy end products will also more than double in price by next spring. Not 49% as in this study, ~100%.

The two causes are simple, and both are directly climate related.

  1. EU foolishly relied on Russian natgas rather than fracking their own. Because of EU Ukraine sanctions, Putin cut them off. Now with winter coming they desperately rely on US LNG, which more than doubled US nat gas prices, which more than doubled the nitrogen fertilizers made using it.
  2. Biden cancelled KXL, canceled oil leases on federal lands, cancelled GoM oil leases. So US crude and then diesel more than doubled. US went from essentially energy independent to officially a beggar (Biden literally begged the Saudis to produce more oil) in less than two years. Biden and Granholm are both too stupid to realize that the Saudis did not have a lot of spare production capacity to begin with. Saudis know that Substantially increasing production from present ‘optimal’ rates shortens remaining field life and reduces the ultimate total oil recovery. Both are bad for Saudis. So of course they said no.
Rud Istvan
Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 15, 2022 11:39 am

It is a medium size dairy farm. About 350 head, about 150 milking at any given time. We produce about half a million gallons of Class A milk per year.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 15, 2022 2:16 pm

thanks for your insights on farm costs.
for farms in general I thought the ongoing capital costs of buying and maintaining equipment was also a significant cost.

but my main concern is the ongoing finance cost for all the various loan products a farmer takes out. This is particularly important for small farmers in developing nations- they need to borrow for next years crops.
do you thoughts on this?

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Waza
September 15, 2022 3:19 pm

Yes, and land taxes. But I specifically tried to say to say crop input costs. That is hardly all costs. We have fixed capital costs also in barns, milking parlor, farm machinery, storage silos. I was just focusing on the annual variable input costs. Being a profitable dairy farmer is much more complicated.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
September 16, 2022 12:37 am

Well said Rud ,
We too are seeing massive increases in these inputs
I am dairy farming in New Zealand but I have farmed sheep and beef cattle and also had grown a lot of cereal crops mainly Maize or Corn as you say in the States.
We still grow some maize for silage and buy some in .
The contract price for maize silage landed on the farm has increased from $32nz per tonne to $44nz per tonne for delivery in 2223.
The study had a large mistake predicting poultry only going up by 3 to 4 percent .
Maize grain makes up a large proportion of poultry feed which will rise in which will have to increase by at least 40% the same increase as maize silage .

September 15, 2022 11:41 am

Put the demrqt party in charge….they will fix it….waste more money and time…cause more problems….we could impeach Crooked Joey because of the Afghanistan debacle…his failure to protect the border…his use of the DOJ and FBI to target political foes.

Last edited 17 days ago by Antigriff
Reply to  Antigriff
September 16, 2022 3:46 am

The list of legitimate reasons to impeach Biden is nearly endless. Sadly, we first need to impeach Mitch McConnell.

September 15, 2022 11:41 am

“These well-meaning individuals … simply seek some sort of an insurance policy to defuse fears accumulated from the constant flow of projections of a forthcoming climate apocalypse.”

Wikipedia warns us, “Complexity characterises the behaviour of a system or model whose components interact in multiple ways and follow local rules, leading to nonlinearity, randomness, collective dynamics, hierarchy, and emergence.”

Prediction is hard. Sometimes impossible.

Reply to  Speed
September 16, 2022 4:46 am

Doesn’t even the IPCC admit that the climate is a chaotic system.

Peta of Newark
September 15, 2022 12:04 pm

For the gambling men amongst us..(that’s not me)

“The beatings will stop…….”
a/ When there’s no-one left to beat
b/ When the beaters have themselves, ‘been beaten’
c/ When there’s completely no-one left at all

Last edited 17 days ago by Peta of Newark
September 15, 2022 12:15 pm

I’m curious – who gets to spend all this money collected with these taxes?

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  whatlanguageisthis
September 15, 2022 12:29 pm

John Podesta
First installment $350 billion

September 15, 2022 12:25 pm

All greenies know they could grow enough food for the entire family on their 8×8 balcony if they have a vertical garden. They know cuz they read about it. But that might be time consuming so they plan on just buying carbon offsets instead when they buy their groceries at the store. No prob.

Pat from kerbob
September 15, 2022 12:28 pm

An energy affordability crisis is an everything affordability crisis.

Because everything starts with the cost of energy

September 15, 2022 12:38 pm

It’s an abuse of power and the people. What in the air will they want to abolish next. Or more exact, what in your wallet will they abolish.

Coeur de Lion
September 15, 2022 12:40 pm

Whatever happens to American emissions will make no difference to 2100 temperature. Whatever anyone does will make no difference to the steady rise of CO2 at 2ppm a year until it doubles in 150 to 200 years

September 15, 2022 1:19 pm

the fact that fossil fuels (coal, gas and oil) presently account for approximately 84% of all global energy production and 63% of global electricity production. By legislating these resources into oblivion without a sufficient supply of alternative resources to replace them, such policies are creating scarcity in the market, which scarcity will undoubtedly result in higher energy prices.

It is not just that prices will increase, the problem is that prices will increase until a point is reached where only a very few can actually afford to access the rare resources.

For the rest, it’s not that the energy bill will be high, it is that there will be no energy for them.
Burn wood for heating? What wood? Do most people have a forest that they can access for fuel? Will the owners of any woods/forests be happy to see ravening hoards strip them bare? They transport their stolen wood how? No fuel for their cars, no electricity that they can afford for their EVs, and even if they get a few twigs home, they burn them where? On the floor in the middle of their apartment?

Can they get to work? Does public transport still run in cities? Is there even a job to go to? or has it too gone because it can’t afford electricity to operate.

This is how they implement “The Big Die-Off”.

No fuel, No food, No heat, No cooling, No work, No money — and this will all happen quite suddenly. With no hope of recovery because even if you wanted to you can’t re-build the infrastructure, and without the workers to maintain the “renewable” infrastructure that will collapse quite rapidly.

Reply to  Philip
September 16, 2022 5:35 pm


But I’m not sure of the numbers since
“Averaged for the world as a whole, for example, such a tax would increase the price of milk by approximately 49 percent, the price of rice by 67 percent and the price of beef by a whopping 108 percent.”
“Averaged for the world” seems wrong to me since the $150/ton CO2 would only be applied to the First-world economies. There is no way the vast majority of the world’s populatiion could afford do so. But I have not read the actual study to see how they justify this.
But note: Here in the USA our fearless (clueless?) leader is doing his best to wreck our economy so even we won’t be able to afford it either.
IMO the social cost of CO2 is < zero, ie it’s a net benefit. Our overlords doing the $150/ton calculation seem to forget that energy (83% FF derived) is what allows humans to flourish. If you want the details read Alex Epstein’s new book “Fossil Future”.

September 15, 2022 1:56 pm

Excellent report Craig Idso, very informative and in language all of us can understand. The one thing I would have added is that the 1.5 and 2.0 degree Celsius numbers are meaningless and achieving them won’t accomplish a damn thing. It is a made up target to give the green devils something to aim for.

John Oliver
September 15, 2022 2:54 pm

Until we can figure out why 95% of the MSM does no real investigative journalism this will all continue even when things get very bad , they will just make up a new false narrative out of whole cloth, again. Same with the corruption in US justice department ie persecution of any constitutional conservative. You would think in a free market for information this could not happen. Yet it continues.

September 15, 2022 3:29 pm

Just put 400lbs of free range, “organic” moo cow in my freezer.

Reply to  Ack
September 15, 2022 8:38 pm

Now they know where to look

Reply to  Ack
September 16, 2022 12:09 pm

You Kulak You. Wait until the local Kommisar gets wind of this! You will be required to share all with his friends and none for you.

Mike Maguire
September 15, 2022 8:18 pm

Thanks very much for the wonderful article!

Craig Idso is an elite authority on this topic!

I don’t know of a place with more comprehensive empirical data on plants and related topics!

Related discussions:

 Dutch farmers and nitrogen :

Another secret about fossil fuels: Haber Bosch process-fertilizers feeding the planet using natural gas-doubling food production/crop yields.

Mike Maguire
September 15, 2022 8:22 pm

The last link came out wrong. Sorry about that. This one should work:

Another secret about fossil fuels: Haber Bosch process-fertilizers feeding the planet using natural gas-doubling food production/crop yields. September 2019

September 16, 2022 3:42 am

Ignorance, like evil, will expand to consume the space made available to it. We have reached the point where articles such as this that point out the terrible human consequences of uniformed policies crafted by the uneducated and “climate alarmed” are essential. Bravo.

Andy Pattullo
September 16, 2022 9:19 am

To the proponents of CO2 emission reduction, this is not a flaw but a feature. Engineering mass starvation and reduction in human population appears to be their endgame, to which I suggest, let them be the first to be forced onto the policy-driven diets to come.

September 16, 2022 10:02 am

Carbon is the basic building block of life itself. We are setting up a situation with CO2 pricing (depending how it is structured) where the ultra rich who own everything else will be able to own the environment as well.

Privatize the Amazon rainforest says UK minister
October 1, 2006
At a summit this week in Mexico, David Miliband, Britain’s Environment Secretary, will propose a plan to “privatize” the Amazon to allow the world’s largest rainforest to be bought by individuals and groups, according to a report in The Telegraph newspaper online.
The scheme, which has been endorsed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, would seek to protect the region’s biodiversity while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming.
According to The Telegraph the plan would “involve the creation of an international body to buy the rainforest before setting up a trust to sell trees” and buyers would become “stake-holders” in the rainforest.

Reply to  brent
September 16, 2022 10:06 am

Brazil says no to rainforest privatization plan, asks Gore for help
October 18, 2006
On Tuesday Brazil rejected a alleged British proposal to fight climate change by “privatizing” parts of the Amazon rainforest, according to Reuters.
In an editorial published on the opinion page of Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, Environment Minister Marina Silva and Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that the Amazon was “not for sale”. Their comments were expected since Brazil has long objected to internationalization of the Amazon, seeing such attempts as a threat to its sovereignty.
The “Amazon privatization” report, which originally appeared in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper on October 1, 2006, said that David Miliband, Britain’s Environment Secretary, planned to propose an initiative that would turn parts of the Amazon into an “international trust” wherein credible buyers could lockup parts of the rainforest for preservation. However, shortly after the article was published, Miliband’s office strongly rejected the story.

Reply to  brent
September 16, 2022 10:08 am

Amazongate II – Seeing REDD
The Amazon – a “green gold-rush”
The WWF and other green campaign groups talking up the destruction of the Amazon rainforests are among those who stand to make billions of dollars from the scare. This “green gold-rush” involves taking control of huge tracts of rainforest supposedly to stop them being chopped down, and selling carbon credits gained from carbon dioxide emissions they claim will be “saved”.
Backed by a $30 million grant from the World Bank, the WWF has already partnered in a pilot scheme to manage 20 million acres in Brazil. If their plans get the go-ahead in Mexico at the end of the year, the forests will be worth over $60 billion in “carbon credits”, paid for by consumers in “rich” countries through their electricity bills and in increased prices for goods and services.

Reply to  brent
September 16, 2022 10:19 am

Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It’s The ‘Lungs Of The World,’ Is Wrong
But both publications repeated the claim that the Amazon is the “lungs” of the world. “The Amazon remains a net source of oxygen today,” said CNN. “The Amazon is often referred to as Earth’s ‘lungs,’ because its vast forests release oxygen and store carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is a major cause of global warming,” claimedThe New York Times.
I was curious to hear what one of the world’s leading Amazon forest experts, Dan Nepstad, had to say about the “lungs” claim.
“It’s bullshit,” he said. “There’s no science behind that. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it’s a wash.

Reply to  brent
September 16, 2022 12:14 pm

The proposers of this scheme should go on a trek through the Amazon to evaluate it as Theodore Roosevelt did.

September 17, 2022 11:50 am
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