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IPCC focus on Food Security and Food Production Systems | Climate Change Lawyer

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [ IPCC]  report draws a clear connection between climate change, food scarcity and conflict. Climate change has already cut into the global food supply. Global crop yields have already begun to decline, especially wheat raising doubts whether food production can keep up with population growth.

Other food sources are also under pressure. Certain fish catches may reduce by 40% - 60%. The report also warns that climate change, combined with poverty and economic shocks, could lead to war and and drive people to leave their houses.

Food Security and Food Production Executive summary 

The effects of climate change on crop and food production are evident in several regions of the world (high confidence). Negative impacts of climate trends have been more common than positive ones. [Figures 7-2, 7-7] Positive trends are evident in some high latitude regions (high confidence). Since AR4, there have been several periods of rapid food and cereal price increases following climate extremes in key producing regions, indicating a sensitivity of current markets to climate extremes among other factors. [Figure 7-3, Table 18-4] Several of these climate extremes were made more likely as the result of anthropogenic emissions (medium confidence). [Table 18-4] 

Climate trends are affecting the abundance and distribution of harvested aquatic species, both freshwater and marine, and aquaculture production systems in different parts of the world. [7.2.1.2, 7.3.2.4, 7.4.2] These are expected to continue with negative impacts on nutrition and food security for especially vulnerable people, particularly in some tropical developing countries [7.3.3.2], but with benefits in other regions which become more favourable for aquatic food production (medium confidence). [7.5.1.1.3] 

Studies have documented a large negative sensitivity of crop yields to extreme daytime temperatures around 30°C. [Chapter 5 AR4, 7.3.2.1.1] These sensitivities have been identified for several crops and regions and exist throughout the growing season (high confidence). Several studies report that temperature trends are important for determining both past and future impacts of climate change on crop yields at sub-continental to global scales (medium confidence). [7.3.2, Box 7-1] At scales of individual countries or smaller, precipitation projections remain important but uncertain factors for assessing future impacts (high confidence). [7.3.2, Box 7-1] 

Evidence since AR4 confirms the stimulatory effects of CO2 in most cases and the damaging effects of elevated tropospheric ozone on crop yields (high confidence). Experimental and modelling evidence indicate that interactions between CO2 and ozone, mean temperature, extremes, water and nitrogen are non-linear and difficult to predict (medium confidence). [7.3.2.1.2, Figure 7-2] 

Changes in climate and CO2 concentration will enhance the distribution and increase the competiveness of agronomically important and invasive weeds (medium confidence). Rising CO2 may reduce the effectiveness of some herbicides (low confidence). The effects of climate change on disease pressure on food crops is uncertain, with evidence pointing to changed geographical ranges of pests and diseases but less certain changes in disease intensity (low confidence). [7.3.2.3] 

All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization, and price stability (high confidence). [7.3.3.1, Table 7-1] There remains limited quantitative understanding of how non-production elements of food security will be affected, and of the adaptation possibilities in these domains. Nutritional quality of food and fodder, including protein and micronutrients, is negatively affected by elevated CO2, but these effects may be counteracted by effects of other aspects of climate change (medium confidence). [7.3.2.5] Climate change will increase progressively the inter-annual variability of crop yields in many regions (medium confidence). [Figure 7-6] 

Without adaptation, local temperature increases in excess of about 1oC above pre-industrial is projected to have negative effects on yields for the major crops (wheat, rice and maize) in both tropical and temperate regions, although individual locations may benefit (medium confidence). [7.4, Figures 7-4,7-5,7-7] With or without adaptation, negative impacts on average yields become likely from the 2030s [Figure 7-5] with median yield impacts of 0 to -2% per decade projected for the rest of the century [Figure 7-7], and after 2050 the risk of more severe impacts increases (medium confidence). [Figure 7-5] These impacts will occur in the context of rising crop demand, which is projected to increase by about 14% per decade until 2050. [Figure 7-7] Regional chapters 22 (Africa), 23 (Europe), 24 (Asia), 27 (Central and South America) and Box 7-1 show crop production to be consistently and negatively affected by climate change in the future in low latitude countries, while climate change may have positive or negative effects in northern latitudes (high confidence). 

Changes in temperature and precipitation, without considering effects of CO2 will contribute to increased global food prices by 2050, with estimated increases ranging from 3-84% (medium confidence). Projections that include the effects of CO2 changes, but ignore ozone and pest and disease impacts, indicate that global price increases are about as likely as not, with a range of projected impacts from -30% to +45% by 2050. [7.4.4]  

Under scenarios of high levels of warming, leading to local mean temperature increases of 3-4 oC or higher, models based on current agricultural systems suggest large negative impacts on agricultural productivity and substantial risks to global food production and security (medium confidence). Such risks will be greatest for tropical countries, given the larger impacts in these regions, which are beyond projected adaptive capacity, and higher poverty rates compared to temperate regions. [7.4.1, Figures 7-4, 7-7] 

The average benefit, as yield difference between the adapted and non-adapted cases, of adapting crop management is equivalent to about 15 to 18% of current yields. [Figure 7-8, Table 7-2] This response is, however, extremely variable, ranging from negligible benefit from adaptation and even potential dis-benefit to very substantial (medium confidence). [7.5.1.1.1] Projected benefits of adaptation are greater for crops in temperate, rather than tropical regions [7.5.1.1.1, Figures 7-4, 7-7] (medium confidence), with some adaptation options more effective than others [Table 7-2] (medium confidence) and wheat-based systems more adaptable than other crops [Figure 7-4] (low confidence). Positive and negative yield impacts associated with local temperature increases of about 2oC above pre-industrial maintain possibilities for effective adaptation in crop production [Figures 7-4,7-5,7-8]; local warming of about 4oC and higher above pre-industrial is projected to result in differences between crop production and its population-driven demand becoming increasingly large in many regions (high confidence), thus posing very significant risks and challenges to food security (high confidence). [Figure 7-7, Table 7-3] 

Adaptation in fisheries, aquaculture and livestock production will potentially be strengthened by adoption of multi-level adaptive strategies to minimise negative impacts. Key adaptations for fisheries and aquaculture include policy and management to maintain ecosystems in a state that is resilient to change, enabling occupational flexibility and developing early warning systems for extreme events (medium confidence). [7.5.1.1.2] Adaptations for livestock systems centre on adjusting management to the available resources, using breeds better adapted to the FINAL DRAFT IPCC WGII AR5 Chapter 7 prevailing climate and removing barriers to adaptation such as improving credit access (medium confidence). [7.5.1.1.3]  

A range of potential adaptation options exist across all food system activities, not just in food production, but benefits from potential innovations in food processing, packaging, transport, storage and trade are insufficiently researched. [7.1, 7.5, 7.6, Figures 7-1, 7-7, 7-8] More observational evidence is needed on the effectiveness of adaptations at all levels of the food system. [7.6] 

Click here for a link to the food security and food production systems report.

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