Consumptive water footprint and virtual water trade scenarios for China - with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade

L. Zhuo, Mesfin Mekonnen, Arjen Ysbert Hoekstra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The study assesses green and blue water footprints (WFs) and virtual water (VW) trade in China under alternative scenarios for 2030 and 2050, with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade. We consider five driving factors of change: climate, harvested crop area, technology, diet, and population. Four scenarios (S1–S4) are constructed by making use of three of IPCC's shared socio-economic pathways (SSP1–SSP3) and two of IPCC's representative concentration pathways (RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5) and taking 2005 as the baseline year. Results show that, across the four scenarios and for most crops, the green and blue WFs per tonne will decrease compared to the baseline year, due to the projected crop yield increase, which is driven by the higher precipitation and CO2 concentration under the two RCPs and the foreseen uptake of better technology. The WF per capita related to food consumption decreases in all scenarios. Changing to the less-meat diet can generate a reduction in the WF of food consumption of 44% by 2050. In all scenarios, as a result of the projected increase in crop yields and thus overall growth in crop production, China will reverse its role from net VW importer to net VW exporter. However, China will remain a big net VW importer related to soybean, which accounts for 5% of the WF of Chinese food consumption (in S1) by 2050. All scenarios show that China could attain a high degree of food self-sufficiency while simultaneously reducing water consumption in agriculture. However, the premise of realizing the presented scenarios is smart water and cropland management, effective and coherent policies on water, agriculture and infrastructure, and, as in scenario S1, a shift to a diet containing less meat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-223
JournalEnvironment international
Volume94
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Fingerprint

water footprint
crop production
food consumption
diet
meat
crop yield
water
agriculture
crop
self sufficiency
soybean
trade and consumption
infrastructure
climate change
food

Keywords

  • METIS-316774
  • IR-100896

Cite this

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title = "Consumptive water footprint and virtual water trade scenarios for China - with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade",
abstract = "The study assesses green and blue water footprints (WFs) and virtual water (VW) trade in China under alternative scenarios for 2030 and 2050, with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade. We consider five driving factors of change: climate, harvested crop area, technology, diet, and population. Four scenarios (S1–S4) are constructed by making use of three of IPCC's shared socio-economic pathways (SSP1–SSP3) and two of IPCC's representative concentration pathways (RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5) and taking 2005 as the baseline year. Results show that, across the four scenarios and for most crops, the green and blue WFs per tonne will decrease compared to the baseline year, due to the projected crop yield increase, which is driven by the higher precipitation and CO2 concentration under the two RCPs and the foreseen uptake of better technology. The WF per capita related to food consumption decreases in all scenarios. Changing to the less-meat diet can generate a reduction in the WF of food consumption of 44{\%} by 2050. In all scenarios, as a result of the projected increase in crop yields and thus overall growth in crop production, China will reverse its role from net VW importer to net VW exporter. However, China will remain a big net VW importer related to soybean, which accounts for 5{\%} of the WF of Chinese food consumption (in S1) by 2050. All scenarios show that China could attain a high degree of food self-sufficiency while simultaneously reducing water consumption in agriculture. However, the premise of realizing the presented scenarios is smart water and cropland management, effective and coherent policies on water, agriculture and infrastructure, and, as in scenario S1, a shift to a diet containing less meat.",
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Consumptive water footprint and virtual water trade scenarios for China - with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade. / Zhuo, L.; Mekonnen, Mesfin; Hoekstra, Arjen Ysbert.

In: Environment international, Vol. 94, 2016, p. 211-223.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Consumptive water footprint and virtual water trade scenarios for China - with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade

AU - Zhuo, L.

AU - Mekonnen, Mesfin

AU - Hoekstra, Arjen Ysbert

PY - 2016

Y1 - 2016

N2 - The study assesses green and blue water footprints (WFs) and virtual water (VW) trade in China under alternative scenarios for 2030 and 2050, with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade. We consider five driving factors of change: climate, harvested crop area, technology, diet, and population. Four scenarios (S1–S4) are constructed by making use of three of IPCC's shared socio-economic pathways (SSP1–SSP3) and two of IPCC's representative concentration pathways (RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5) and taking 2005 as the baseline year. Results show that, across the four scenarios and for most crops, the green and blue WFs per tonne will decrease compared to the baseline year, due to the projected crop yield increase, which is driven by the higher precipitation and CO2 concentration under the two RCPs and the foreseen uptake of better technology. The WF per capita related to food consumption decreases in all scenarios. Changing to the less-meat diet can generate a reduction in the WF of food consumption of 44% by 2050. In all scenarios, as a result of the projected increase in crop yields and thus overall growth in crop production, China will reverse its role from net VW importer to net VW exporter. However, China will remain a big net VW importer related to soybean, which accounts for 5% of the WF of Chinese food consumption (in S1) by 2050. All scenarios show that China could attain a high degree of food self-sufficiency while simultaneously reducing water consumption in agriculture. However, the premise of realizing the presented scenarios is smart water and cropland management, effective and coherent policies on water, agriculture and infrastructure, and, as in scenario S1, a shift to a diet containing less meat.

AB - The study assesses green and blue water footprints (WFs) and virtual water (VW) trade in China under alternative scenarios for 2030 and 2050, with a focus on crop production, consumption and trade. We consider five driving factors of change: climate, harvested crop area, technology, diet, and population. Four scenarios (S1–S4) are constructed by making use of three of IPCC's shared socio-economic pathways (SSP1–SSP3) and two of IPCC's representative concentration pathways (RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5) and taking 2005 as the baseline year. Results show that, across the four scenarios and for most crops, the green and blue WFs per tonne will decrease compared to the baseline year, due to the projected crop yield increase, which is driven by the higher precipitation and CO2 concentration under the two RCPs and the foreseen uptake of better technology. The WF per capita related to food consumption decreases in all scenarios. Changing to the less-meat diet can generate a reduction in the WF of food consumption of 44% by 2050. In all scenarios, as a result of the projected increase in crop yields and thus overall growth in crop production, China will reverse its role from net VW importer to net VW exporter. However, China will remain a big net VW importer related to soybean, which accounts for 5% of the WF of Chinese food consumption (in S1) by 2050. All scenarios show that China could attain a high degree of food self-sufficiency while simultaneously reducing water consumption in agriculture. However, the premise of realizing the presented scenarios is smart water and cropland management, effective and coherent policies on water, agriculture and infrastructure, and, as in scenario S1, a shift to a diet containing less meat.

KW - METIS-316774

KW - IR-100896

U2 - 10.1016/j.envint.2016.05.019

DO - 10.1016/j.envint.2016.05.019

M3 - Article

VL - 94

SP - 211

EP - 223

JO - Environment international

JF - Environment international

SN - 0160-4120

ER -