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Rosa, Lorenzo, Rulli, Maria Cristina, Ali, Saleem, Chiarelli, Davide Danilo, Dell'Angelo, Jampel, Mueller, Nathaniel D., Scheidel, Arnim, Siciliano, Giuseppina and D'Odorico, Paolo (2021) 'Energy implications of the 21st century agrarian transition.' Nature Communications, 12 (2319).

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Abstract

The ongoing agrarian transition from small-holder farming to large-scale commercial agriculture is reshaping systems of production and human well-being in many regions. A fundamental part of this global transition is manifested in large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) by agribusinesses. Its energy implications, however, remain poorly understood. Here, we assess the multi-dimensional changes in fossil-fuel-based energy demand resulting from this agrarian transition. We focus on LSLAs by comparing two scenarios of low-input and high-input agricultural practices, exemplifying systems of production in place before and after the agrarian transition. A shift to high-input crop production requires industrial fertilizer application, mechanization of farming practices and irrigation, which increases by ~5 times fossil-fuel-based energy consumption compared to low-input agriculture. Given the high energy and carbon footprints of LSLAs and concerns over local energy access, our analysis highlights the need for an approach that prioritizes local resource access and incorporates energy-intensity analyses in land use governance.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Development, Environment and Policy
ISSN: 20411723
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2021 This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-22581-7
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2021 16:24
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/35082

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