Future food security relies on smart climate change policy

July 31st, 2018

Climate change is already impacting the global food system due to rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns. The effect of these changes are likely to increase into the future, slowing progress towards the eradication of hunger globally, and in particular in developing regions that are already prone to food insecurity.

However, efforts to mitigate climate change can also increase hunger through increases to food prices and impacts on supply of food.

In a paper recently released in Nature Climate Change, we conducted an assessment on the effects of climate change and climate mitigation efforts on food prices and the population at risk of hunger in the future.

We found that by 2050, stringent climate mitigation policy, such as strict land-use regulations and high carbon taxes, could lead to a larger increase in the number of people at risk of hunger than the direct impacts of climate change. These results suggest that ambitious climate policies if not carefully targeted could present an additional challenge to ending hunger by 2050.

“These findings should not reduce the importance of addressing climate change, particularly given the fact that the worst impacts of climate change are likely to be felt in the second half of the century. Delaying action to mitigate climate change will only make it costlier and present us with harder tradeoffs” said co-author Daniel Mason-D’Croz.

“It, however, does suggest we need to work towards smarter climate policy, a finding that is supported by some of my previous work in another Nature Climate Change paper, where we found that carefully targeted carbon taxes with offsetting price and income supports could reduce future emissions while minimizing negative health outcomes in vulnerable regions.” said Daniel Mason-D’Croz.

It is of great importance that we design and implement climate policies in conjunction with measures that can promote food security and simultaneously reduce poverty and improve health conditions.