By Yurong Yu, AgMIP Intern
How does climate change affect food security and agriculture? What can governments; farmers and food producers do to build resilience against the impacts of a changing climate? How should agriculture reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help stop global warming?
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held a discussion on November 1st 2016 in New York to examine these questions and present their new report “State of Food and Agriculture – Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.” Cynthia Rosenzweig, the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) Co-PI and Halldor Thorgeirsson, Director for Strategy, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change led the discussion. The hosts included the Permanent Missions of France, Indonesia and Morocco to the United Nations. The presentation by Rob Vos, Director, Agricultural Development Economics (ESA), Economic and Social Development Department, FAO, was held the same week as the Paris Agreement on climate change took effect and days before the 22nd Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Morocco.
The “State of Food and Agriculture – Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security,” report provides a thorough analysis of current and future impact of climate change on agriculture, and possible options to respond to it including viable paths governments, food producers and other actors could pursue in order to respond to the upcoming changes. The report also provides insights on how to lower barriers to the adoption of appropriate response measures. Five key messages are highlighted in the report: climate change already affects agriculture and food security and, without urgent action, will put millions of people at risk of hunger and poverty; while impacts on agriculture yields and livelihoods will vary across countries and regions, they will become increasingly adverse over time and potentially catastrophic in some areas; limiting global temperature increases to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change; deep transformations in agriculture and food systems, from pre-production to consumption, are needed in order to maximize the co-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts; the agriculture sectors have potential to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, but ensuring future food security requires a primary focus on adaptation.
Halldor Thorgeirsson, Rob Vos, and Cynthia Rosenzweig at the FAO Presentation of “The State of Food and Agriculture 2016”
Estimates of the impact of climate change on crop yields were provided to the report based on research by AgMIP and others. This research points out the dramatic long-term food security impacts of a world with a changed climate compared to one with climate change mitigation.
“AgMIP was pleased to contribute rigorous research findings to this timely report of climate change impacts on food and agriculture from FAO,” commented Rosenzweig.
The report states that when analyzing the possible future impacts of climate change, it is important to bear in mind that food and agriculture will be affected by a range of other drivers of change including growth in population and income. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and several other global economic modeling groups, collaborating as part of AgMIP used different combinations of Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) and Shared Socio-economic Pathway (SSPs) to explore the possible effects of climate change – together with other socio-economic changes – on production, yields, cultivated area, prices and trade of major crops (Wiebe et al., 2015).
In summary, the report concludes that deep transformations in agriculture and food systems are needed to maximize the co-benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts. Tough choices will have to be made in order to make this happen. Urgent action needs to start now and inaction or delay could put future food security at risk worldwide and will make it increasingly difficult for poorer countries to fight poverty and hunger as climate change intensifies. The costs of inaction will far exceed those of enabling food producers to respond effectively to climate change today.
Access the complete report here on the FAO website.