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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Carbon taxes and agriculture: the benefit of a multilateral agreement

Jansson, Torbjorn; Malmstrom, Nils; Johansson, Helena; Choi, Hyungsik


Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture is crucial to reach global and regional climate targets. However, the efficiency of unilateral climate policies aimed at taxing emissions might be hampered by carbon leakage. One way to eliminate leakage is to implement a global carbon tax. In this article, we study the effects of a carbon tax in agriculture on GHG emissions by simulating five policy scenarios using the CAPRI model; (i) an EU tax, (ii) an EU tax complemented with a border carbon adjustment mechanism (BCA), (iii) a global tax, (iv) a global tax scaled by GDP per capita, and (v) a low global tax at 1/10 of the tax level in the other scenarios. For the global scenarios, we also analyse the impact on food consumption and nutrient intake. We find that a global tax of EUR 120 per ton CO2-eq could reduce global agricultural emissions by 19%, but also jeopardizes food security in some parts of the world. A global tax at 1/10 of that rate (EUR 12) achieves a 3.2% reduction. In contrast, a unilateral EU tax of EUR 120 per ton CO2-eq, accompanied with a BCA, reduces global agricultural emissions by only 0.15%.Key policy insightsA unilateral carbon tax in the EU causes significant emission leakage. This result depends strongly on differences in emission intensities between regions and on consumer preferences.A EUR 12 global carbon tax achieves a considerably larger global emission reduction than a EUR 120 unilateral EU carbon tax accompanied with a border carbon adjustment.A global carbon tax differentiated by GDP per capita is less effective than a uniform global carbon tax, as producers with higher emission intensities tend to get lower tax rates. Other ways of taking equity into account should be sought when designing climate policies in the agricultural sector.


Climate change mitigation; agricultural emissions; economic assessment; economic model; carbon leakage; food security

Published in

Climate Policy
2024, Volume: 24, number: 1, pages: 13-25

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
      End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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