Farmer intentional pathways for net zero carbon: exploring the lock-in effects of forestry and renewables

AP Barnes*, J McMillan, Lee-Ann Sutherland, Jonathan Hopkins, SG Thomson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


Climate smart farming requires food production to sit alongside practices which sequester greenhouse gas emissions. Given the requirement to meet net zero emissions by the middle of the century, agricultural policies are now seeking to embed climate smart approaches within future support schemes. Path dependency, the influence of past choices on decision making, has been found to constrain future growth pathways. We apply this concept within a survey of 2494 farmers in Scotland to understand their intentions towards uptake of two prominent climate smart approaches, namely forestry expansion and on-farm renewable energy. We employ a bivariate probit model to estimate the single and joint dependences of these two activities within a farm decision making framework. Factors such as succession planning, the level of agricultural diversification and risk seeking perceptions were found to be positively related to influencing uptake. However, the strongest predictors for uptake were past expansion of these activities and, conversely, a limiting factor for those who did not intend to increase activities. This provides some evidence that path dependencies will limit large scale adoption to meet a net zero target. We argue for a dual approach to intervention which differentiates between past adopters and those who are reluctant to adopt. More targetted support for these two cohorts would address these high level policy ambitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105861
JournalLand Use Policy
Early online date24 Nov 2021
Publication statusPrint publication - Jan 2022


  • Bivariate probit
  • Climate smart agriculture
  • Path dependency


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