Global food crisis coming if climate change not checked: UN Report

Aug 8, 2019

New Delhi: A global food crisis is in the making if climate change is left unchecked, according to a report released Thursday by a United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC).

Rise in global temperatures, linked to increasing pressures on fertile soil, was jeopardizing food security for the planet, said the report, written by more than 100 scientists from around the world.

Humans affect more than 70 per cent of land not covered by ice and a quarter is already degraded. Today 500 million people live in areas that experience desertification. People living degraded or desertified areas are already bearing the brunt of climate change.This soil degradation has a direct impact on the amount of carbon the earth is able to contain

Amid recent reports that more an 820 million people are undernourished around the world, Co-chair of another Working Group that produced the report, Jim Skea, underlined the fact that up to 30 per cent of food was lost or wasted.

He recommended that countries should consider all options to tackle loss and waste, which would reduce the pressure on land that results in greenhouse gas emissions, including by growing plant-based, or so-called “bio” fuels.

If average global temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius over the pre-industrial average, which according to IPCC assessment could happen by the end of the century, food supplies were going to be very unstable.

One of the key approaches to tackle the problem is to reduce the amount of food waste, which releases the potent greenhouse gas methane as it rots.

A change in dietry habits could also help mitigate some of the impacts of global warming. Eating a little bit less red meat and more plant-based food could reduce the equivalent of up to 8 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, according to the report.

Climate change is already increasing both the frequency and severity of extreme weather, leading to more intense downpours and extended heat waves, which can disrupt crops or alter growing seasons.

Global warming could lead to proliferation of some weeds and pests and weaken certain crops’ ability to fight disease.

According to the IPCC report, agriculture, forestry and other land use contribute to around a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, a fact that policy-makers should consider when considering how they should invest to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if we want to keep the load two
degrees Celsius,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of Working Group II, before cautioning that there were “limits to the scale of energy crops and afforestation that could be used to achieve this goal”.

The IPCC was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and potential future risks, and to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

—India News Stream