Submitted as: model description paper 17 Aug 2021

Submitted as: model description paper | 17 Aug 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

GOBLIN: A land-balance model to identify national agriculture and land use pathways to climate neutrality via backcasting

Colm Duffy1,, Remi Prudhomme2,, Brian Duffy6, James Gibbons3, Cathal O'Donoghue4, Mary Ryan5, and David Styles1 Colm Duffy et al.
  • 1Bernal Institute, School of Engineering, University of Limerick, Ireland
  • 2CIRAD Département Environnements et sociétés, Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
  • 3School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Bangor, Wales, UK
  • 4National University of Ireland Galway Policy Lab, University Road, Galway, H91 REW4, Ireland
  • 5Rural Economy & Development Programme, Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland
  • 6Independent Researcher
  • These authors have contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The Paris Agreement commits 197 countries to achieve climate stabilisation at a global average surface temperature less than 2 °C above pre-industrial times, using nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to demonstrate progress vis-à-vis this goal. Numerous industrialised economies have targets to achieve territorial climate neutrality by 2050, primarily in the form of “net zero” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, particular uncertainty remains over the role of countries’ agriculture, forestry and land use (AFOLU) sectors for numerous reasons, inter alia: the need to balance mitigation of difficult-to-abate agricultural emissions against food security; agriculture emissions of methane do not need to be reduced to zero to achieve climate stabilisation; land use should be a large net sink globally to offset residual emissions. These issues are represented at a coarse level in integrated assessment models (IAMS) that indicate the role of AFOLU in global pathways towards climate stabilisation. However, there is an urgent need to determine appropriate AFOLU management strategies at national level within NDCs. Here, we present a new model designed to evaluate detailed AFOLU scenarios at national scale, using the example of Ireland where 34 % of national GHG emissions originate from AFOLU. GOBLIN (General Overview for a Back-casting approach of Livestock Intensification) is designed to run randomised scenarios of agricultural activities and land use combinations in 2050 within biophysical constraints (e.g. available land area, livestock productivities, fertiliser-driven grass yields and forest growth rates). Based on AFOLU emission factors used for national GHG inventory reporting, GOBLIN then calculates annual GHG emissions out to 2050 for each scenario. The long-term dynamics of forestry are represented up to 2120, so that scenarios can also be evaluated against the Paris Agreement commitment to achieve a balance between emissions and removals over the second half of this century. We outline the rationale and methodology behind the development of this biophysical model intended to provide robust evidence on the biophysical linkages across food production, GHG emissions and carbon sinks at national level. We then demonstrate how GOBLIN can be applied to evaluate different scenarios in relation to a few possible simple definitions of “climate neutrality”, discussing opportunities and limitations.

Colm Duffy et al.

Status: open (until 19 Nov 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • AC1: 'Comment on gmd-2021-228', Colm Duffy, 24 Aug 2021 reply
  • AC2: 'Comment on gmd-2021-228', Colm Duffy, 03 Sep 2021 reply
  • CEC1: 'Comment on gmd-2021-228', Astrid Kerkweg, 04 Oct 2021 reply

Colm Duffy et al.

Colm Duffy et al.


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Short summary
The GOBLIN (General Overview for a Back-casting approach of Livestock Intensification) model is a new biophysical model capable of identifying broad pathways towards climate neutrality in the agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU) sector. The model is intended to bridge the gap between hindsight representations of national emission and the much larger global integrated assessment models.