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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

We all are drivers of (climate) change

By Neil Palmer

By Neil Palmer

Has the tone changed in discussions about our climate?

That of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published on 31 March certainly has. While the IPCC has repeatedly warned us about the risks related to climate change, this time around, the message sounds particularly urgent.

The report confirms that human activities are responsible for changes occurring in the global climate, and that its impacts are serious and are happening now. It tells us how those are affecting ecosystems, the economy, and people’s livelihoods – including effects on activities and sectors on which we all depend, such as water, energy, food, and health.

The degree of scientific consensus about how greenhouse gases from human activities are already affecting food and farming, and on how the situation could rapidly worsen over the next few decades, is unprecedented. The report even sounds the alarm about “the breakdown of food systems, linked to warming.”

In her analysis of the IPCC’s findings, Sonja Vermeulen, head of research for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), notes that the growing consensus on the impact of climate change on food security should accelerate the expansion of proven adaptation strategies and new programs.

Switching varieties, for example, gives a median benefit of 23%, compared to 3% for optimizing irrigation and 1% for increasing fertilizer use. This suggests that genebanks and breeding of heat- and drought-tolerant varieties are priorities for adaptation investments in agriculture.

“We need to see an increase in public investments, and also a more creative use of private capital and insurance products that can help farmers and vulnerable communities prepare for a future that is likely to feature more frequent encounters with weather extremes” Vermeulen said.

Tropical areas, which are most exposed to increased climate risks and are also home to a large proportion of the world’s food-insecure people, are admittedly particularly vulnerable.

To read the original post by Stefanie Neno, visit the CIAT News blog.

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