Climate Change And Our Food Systems – An IPCC Special Report

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On the 8 October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Dear Green Planet (DGP) is committed to a zero waste and zero carbon emissions policy. With this new report, the urgency of tackling the threat of climate change couldn’t be higher.

The report comes to several key conclusions. Since pre-industrial times, global temperatures have risen by approximately 1°C. Climate impacts are already occurring and will continue to intensify unless direct action is taken.

The report warns that sea level rise will continue beyond the end of this century with the risk of destabilisation of the Greenland and antarctic ice sheets resulting in sea level rise of several meters.

The net result of the impacts of climate change will lead to ‘Climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.’

Food Security

The key issue is food security. Our food systems will be covered in a separate forthcoming article. But there is no doubt that climate change will have serious ramifications regarding food production and availability with the added impacts of water stress through drought or flooding, depending on location.

With increased problems comes the risk of malnutrition, particularly in poor countries. This could increase vulnerability to disease. In addition there is also the threat of conflict with competition over reduced resources.

Climate change could threaten ecosystems, particularity through the intrusion into agricultural systems and other related ecosystems of saline water from sea level rise. This is already happening in certain locations.

Solutions

The obvious solution to the climate problem is an immediate reduction in GHG emissions. But even with urgent action, there will still be climate impacts. As such, adaptation and mitigation measures will be required.

Improved management of resources, including food waste reduction, livestock management, cultivation of crops that may adapt to climate changes and improved irrigation techniques to cope with sea water intrusion.

Adapting agricultural methods could help, such as improving soil management, irrigation and in some cases, crop rotation.

It is clear from the report that livestock production must be reduced. This can only be achieved by a reduction of meat consumption. However with increasing consumption of meat in emerging economies, global demand is actually increasing.

Reducing Food Waste

Food waste is a major problem. At least a third of all food produced from farm to fork is wasted. In western economies, food production tends to be highly subsidised and over produced.

Supermarkets for example may overstock just to fill shelves. They also prioritse the cosmetic appearance of food, leading to the disposal of perfectly good quality food. Consumers also buy more than they need, resulting in food being thrown away.

These are important issues at every level of the supply chain. Waste food contributes to global GHG emissions. This is something that needs to be tackled.

The report suggests some technological solutions to the problem. But technology is not necessarily a magic bullet that will solve the climate crisis. Some technological innovation will certainly help. But the real problem is bad practice and human behaviour. These are issues that will be explored in future articles.

 

 

 

 

 

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