Climate Food Impacts

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Climate change is already affecting farmers, food security and biodiversity, especially in the global South. According to climate scientists, unchecked climate change will slash yields of the world’s three most important food staples – rice, wheat and maize – the crops that provide over half of the calories consumed globally.

By 2050 Asian rice yields could plunge 15 per cent, wheat yields in the global South could fall by 13 per cent and African maize farmers could see yields drop 10−20 per cent. The projected frequency and severity of extreme climate events will wreak havoc on farming communities, including higher temperatures, drought, flooding, salt water intrusion, cyclones, wildfires, pest and disease outbreaks, and severe water scarcity.

No place on Earth is immune from the impacts of climate change, but food insecure people, particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, will be hardest hit. In these areas, climate change could result in a 20 per cent increase in child malnutrition by 2050, driving millions more into hunger and deprivation.

Links and Resources

  • Battisti, D. and Naylor, R. (2009). Historical warnings of food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. Science, 323(5911), 240-244.
  • CGIAR. (2012, October 31). Agriculture and Food Production Contribute Up to 29 Percent of Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions According to Comprehensive Research Papers. Press Release. Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security. Retrieved from
  • FAO. (2010). Climate change and its effect on conservation and use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and associated biodiversity for food security. Retrieved from
  • GRAIN. (2009, October). The international food system and the climate crisis. Seedling. Retrieved from
  • Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate Change (IDWG). (2008). Climate change and food security: a framework document. Retrieved from
  • Parry, M.L., Canziani, O.F., Palutikof, J.P., van der Linden, P.J. & Hanson,  C.E. (Eds.). (2007). Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
  • Rota, A., Calvosa, C., Chuluunbaatar, D., & Fara, K. (2009). Livestock and climate change. Retrieved from
  • Thornton P., Cramer, L. (eds.). (2012). Impacts of climate change on the agricultural and aquatic systems and natural resources within the CGIAR’s mandate. Retrieved from
  • Vermeulen, S., Campbell, B., Ingram, J. (2012). Climate Change and Food Systems. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 37, 195-222. Retrieved from

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