Quantifying agricultural and non-agricultural drivers of carbon stock change from land-use change

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Key messages

  • There is a “virtual shift” of agricultural lands from Europe, East Asia and North America to South America, Africa and Southeast Asia, and a “virtual shift” of forests in the reverse direction through reforestation and afforestation initiatives.
  • The expansion of under-utilized lands (e.g. abandoned land, degraded land, low productivity land) has been the key driver of carbon stock change as a consequence of land-use change from 1995-2010.
  • The carbon stock loss attributable to agricultural exports has increased drastically; from below 10% before 2000 to 17-30% since 2000.
  • Territorially confined programs to mitigate carbon stock loss do not necessarily contribute positively to global carbon stock change, and may trigger different types of negative displacement and leakage effects.


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