Economic and Environmental Co-benefits of Carbon Sequestration in Agricultural Soils: Retiring Agricultural Land in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

Hongli Feng, Lyubov A. Kurkalova, Catherine L. Kling, Philip W. Gassman
February 2005  [05-WP 384]

This study investigates the carbon sequestration potential and co-benefits from policies aimed at retiring agricultural land in the Upper Mississippi River Basin, a large, heavily agricultural area. We extend the empirical measurement of co-benefits from the previous focus on environmental benefits to include economic transfers. These transfers have often been mentioned as a co-benefit, but little empirical work measuring the potential magnitude of these transfers has previously been undertaken. We compare and contrast five targeting schemes, each based on maximizing different physical environmental measures, including carbon sequestration, soil erosion, nitrogen runoff, nitrogen leaching, as well as the area enrolled in the program. In each case, the other environmental benefits and economic transfers are computed. We find that the geographic distribution of co-benefits (including economic transfers) varies significantly with the benefit targeted, implying that policy design related to targeting can have very important implications for both environmental conditions and income distributions in sub-regions.

Keywords: carbon sequestration, co-benefits, co-effects, economic transfers, environmental benefits targeting, Upper Mississippi River Basin.

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