Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change. It is vulnerable to increasing temperatures, weather variability, shifting agroecosystem boundaries, invasive crops and pests, and more frequent extreme weather events. Weather events will reduce crop yields and affect crops’ nutritional quality. Lower livestock productivity is also projected.
Agriculture is also a major part of the climate problem. It generates 19 to 29 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. This percentage could rise substantially as other sectors reduce their emissions. Warming tends to reduce yields because crops speed through their development, reducing output. Higher temperatures also interfere with the ability of plants to get and use moisture. Soil moisture evaporates faster, increasing plant transpiration and enhancing moisture loss.
Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures eventually reduce yields while encouraging weed and pest proliferation. Precipitation changes increase the likelihood of crop failures—agriculture productivity declines in the long run. Global food security is threatened to affect vulnerable and food insecure populations.
It has been estimated that 2.5 billion people in the poorer parts of the world depend on agriculture for livelihood. Without effective adaptation and genetic improvement with each degree Celsius increase in global mean temperature, global wheat yields will be reduced by 6 percent, rice by 3.2 percent, maize by 7.4 percent, and soybean by 3.1 percent.
The Food Policy Report of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2009, has estimated that South Asia will be hit particularly hard. Large-scale yield declines for the most important food crops will be seen. Climate change will increase prices for the most important crops – rice, wheat, maize, and soybeans. Rainfed maize and irrigated and rainfed wheat will see substantial areas of reduced yields. Sub-Saharan Africa will see mixed results with small declines or increases in maize yields and large negative effects on rainfed wheat. The Latin America and Caribbean region will show mixed yield effects.
Higher feed prices will result in higher meat prices. Calorie availability in 2050 will be lower and is expected to decline relative to 2000 levels throughout the developing world. The decline in calorie availability will increase child malnutrition by twenty percent.
Irrigated wheat and irrigated rice are especially vulnerable to yield declines. Climate change can also actually increase developed country yields. East Asia and the Pacific region, which is temperate for the most part, and Southeast Asia, which is tropical, are differently impacted. Crops are likely to fare reasonably well in temperate regions because of higher future temperatures.
Climate change slows progress towards eliminating hunger. An additional 78 million people will be facing chronic hunger in 2050. Over half of them will be in Africa, south of the Sahara (IFPRI, 2021). To offset this, annual investment in international agricultural research will have to rise from US$1.62 billion to US$2.77 billion annually between 2015 and 2050.
Climate Change: Financial Risks and Opportunities