UN Climate report: Climate change could cause food shortage from 2050
If we don’t get climate change under control, we could face a food shortage beginning between 2050 and 2100. This is one of the key messages in the latest report from the UN climate panel IPCC.
Land is drying up
The IPCC’s report looks into the relationship between climate change, land use and food security. Climate change and intensive land use exacerbate each other, with excessive farming degrading land, which then makes it less productive and reduces its ability to absorb carbon. This, in turn, contributes to climate change, which then worsens land degradation.
Since 1961, land worldwide has become one percent drier every year and in the past 60 years, 40 percent more land has dried up. The impact this is having on agriculture and biodiversity is ever escalating. Areas undergoing desertification and drylands are more vulnerable to climate change and extreme events like heatwaves, drought and dust storms.
Food security under pressure
Land is needed to absorb CO2 via forests and vegetation, but it is also needed for agriculture, something that creates competition and puts pressure on food security. Climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: access (price and ability to obtain food), availability (yield and production), utilisation (nutrition and cooking) and stability (disruption to availability).
The most drastic impacts will be seen in low-income countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Efficient agriculture and combatting food waste are thus extremely important, as is reducing the use of animal fats. About one-third of the food produced is lost or wasted; reducing this figure would cut down on greenhouse gasses and improve food security.
Major changes needed
In order to combat climate change, major changes are needed. A previous IPCC report warned that we need to restrict climate change to a maximum of 1,5C in order to limit the possibility of droughts, floods, extreme heat and other severe consequences. To help address land-related climate change issues, we need to reduce overconsumption and wasting food, as well as stop burning or clearing forests, prevent over-harvesting of fuelwood and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.