It starts by acknowledging that biomass production is constrained by land and water availability, by soils’ ability to produce biomass, and by the need to return some biomass to the land to retain nutrients and soil moisture, as well as by competing uses and by the need to reduce emissions from land conversion and agriculture.

The authors then explore four scenarios: a ‘Single Bottom Line’, driven primarily by market forces; ‘Meeting the Climate Challenge’, focused entirely on curbing emissions; ‘Feeding the Planet’, focused on increasing food production; and a ‘Sustainability Transition’ that uses biomass for food, energy, industrial materials, and more.

They find that while all of the scenarios require trade-offs, the latter could yield great benefits, helping address the urgent climate problem while spurring improvements in agriculture to boost food production and result in new agricultural products. The transition could also spur business innovation and economic growth.

The brief ends with a series of considerations for policy-makers and business leaders, including an agenda for further research.

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