Evaluating the use of marginal abatement cost curves applied to greenhouse gas abatement in agriculture

Agriculture plays an important role in the transformation towards a ‘low-carbon’ society. The sector is highly vulnerable to climate variability, and is a significant source of emissions, while at the same time, it has a potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Developing policies to support GHG mitigation emissions requires information on the effectiveness and costs of potential mitigation opportunities. Such information is frequently depicted in marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs), which help to visualise the hierarchy of mitigation measures and their cumulative level of abatement. Like other tools, MACCs have certain limitations. Furthermore, different derivations of MACCs are appropriate to answer different questions. In order to draw both informative and reliable conclusions for policy decisions, the characteristics of the MACCs and the resulting limitations have to be presented clearly. This paper discusses the main limitations of agricultural MACCs (e.g. wider effects, transaction costs, uncertainty, heterogeneity, non-monetary barriers), reviewing recent methodological developments. Furthermore, it provides guidelines for researchers and policy makers about the choice of methods and the communication of the results in order to improve the use of MACCs in the policy process.

Issue Date:
Mar 12 2015
Publication Type:
Working or Discussion Paper
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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