All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food production, access, use, and price stability.
This is one of the key farm and food-based warnings contained in the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report which was published at the weekend, drawing widespread public attention and reaction.
While the initial public focus has been directed towards how global policies may still be adapted to combat the worst effects of climate change, there is much for farm sector leaders and scientists to consider.
Changing cropping patterns and the impact of future water shortages on food production are both highlighted as areas of major concern.
On cropping patterns the report states: “For wheat, rice, and maize in tropical and temperate regions, climate change without adaptation is projected to negatively impact production at local temperature increases of 2 °C or more above late 20th century levels, although individual locations may benefit. Projected impacts vary across crops and regions and adaptation scenarios, with about 10% of projections for the 2030-2049 period showing yield gains of more than 10%, and about 10% of projections showing yield losses of more than 25%, compared with the late 20th century.”
On water issues, it is stated: “Rural areas are expected to experience major impacts on water availability and supply, food security, infrastructure, and agricultural incomes, including shifts in the production areas of food and non-food crops around the world.”
The impact of temperatures rising even more sharply in the future is also considered, drawing the warning that global temperature increases of 4 °C or more above late 20th century levels, combined with increasing food demand, would pose large risks to food security, both globally and regionally.