Extensification versus Intensification in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Agriculture: Insights from Norway

David Blandford, Ivar Gaasland, Erling Vårdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Norwegian agriculture makes a disproportionate contribution to the country's emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) relative to its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) - a picture that is repeated globally. Using a detailed economic model we examine the implications of imposing a tax on GHG emissions from Norwegian agriculture under a continuation of existing agricultural policies. We find that this would result in a reduction of agricultural production, particularly for GHG-intensive commodities such as beef and sheepmeat. The use of feed and fertiliser would fall. There would be an extensification of production and emissions per hectare would decline. In contrast, if farmers are rewarded for carbon sequestration through agro-forestry, this would lead to intensification. More inputs would be applied to land that remained in agriculture and emissions per unit of agricultural land would increase. Although the numerical results are specific to the Norwegian setting, they are illustrative of global issues. If agriculture is to meet the needs of an expanding world population while simultaneously contributing to mitigation of GHG emissions, this will require the intensification of production - higher output per unit of land with higher emissions per unit of land area, but with lower emissions per unit of agricultural production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-9
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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