The Viability of Cattle Ranching Intensification in Brazil as a Strategy to Spare Land and Mitigate Greenhouse Gas Emissions


"Recent research and policy on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Brazil suggests that the least-cost, largest-scale mitigation option is for cattle ranchers to produce more on the land they already use. The rationale is that cattle ranching intensification programs (CRIPs) can speed yield-increasing technology adoption that delivers GHG benefits by sparing land to prevent deforestation and allow more biofuels production and other productive uses. We draw on a literature review to assess the merits and viability of CRIPs in Brazil. Support for CRIPs is based on a series of premises: accelerating intensification is straightforward and additional; Brazilian pasturelands have significant potential for alternative uses; reducing extensive cattle ranching will have a substantial effect on deforestation rates; increasing intensive ranching will reduce extensive cattle ranching; boosting intensity will actually spare land because it won't simply cause demand to increase; increased intensity has social and environmental co-benefits; and the mitigation benefits of CRIPs outweigh the marginal costs. We examine the logic and the inconsistencies of each premise, weigh potential consequences and propose potential remedies that could improve the viability of CRIPs."



climate change, mitigation, REDD, agricultural development, deforestation, land tenure and use, pastoralism