IPCC report: Climate change to impact water, energy and food security

The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) welcomes the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Working Group II of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities.

GCP wholly supports the findings of WG II and notes with increasing alarm that the regional effects of climate change will create significant water, energy, food and livelihood impacts, which in turn, will lead to increasing pressure on the world’s tropical forests. GCP calls for urgent action to safeguard tropical forests due to their unique ability to reduce pressure of water impacts on food and energy security, whilst also contributing to climate change mitigation efforts.

IPCC AR5 WG II findings with respect to tropical forest regions:

1) Central and South America

Increasing temperatures during the growing season in parts of tropical South America, east of the Andes, and Central America will likely adversely affect agricultural productivity and human welfare.

Worst case scenarios project a 44 per cent reduction in soyabean yields by 2050 in the Amazon region – creating pressure on tropical forests.

Given the use and dependency of Central and South America on water resources, for agriculture and hydropower (which provides 60 per cent of the regions electricity needs), climate change-induced changes will undoubtedly have substantial impacts that will reverberate through the regions’ economies and affect human well being.

2) Asia

The impacts of climate change on food production and food security in Asia will vary by region, however, many regions are expected to see a decline in food productivity, again heightening pressure on forests.

Drought-induced fires will increase the vulnerability of agriculture, forestry and human settlements, particularly in peatland areas in Indonesia.

Climate change is expected to adversely affect the sustainable development capabilities of most Asian countries by aggravating pressures on natural resources and the environment.

3) Africa

Direct and indirect effects of climate change will continue to compound existing environmental stressors such as deforestation, forest degradation and land use change.

Water security in Africa will also become a more urgent issue with tropical Africa suffering from more intense and heavy rainfall events which is likely to lead to significant flooding and soil erosion, compared with other areas in southern and western Africa suffering from longer and more frequent droughts.

Increasing vulnerability of agriculture systems and impacts on food security caused by a general decline in food productivity are likely to create additional pressures on the need for land.

Andrew Mitchell, Executive Director, the Global Canopy Programme states “The IPCC’s WG II has delivered a stark warning about the future impacts of climate change. Over the next few years climate change and deforestation will effectively become the Bride and Groom of global change. Combined, this marriage from hell will play out on a growing population that is expected to peak at over 9 billion by 2050. Unless governments act now, the cost of a divorce settlement will be trillions in lost productivity, rising food and energy prices, and in conflicts among the world’s poorest countries.”

He goes on to say “It’s imperative that we get decisive political action now. The role of natural capital, like tropical forests, in both underpinning regional economic prosperity and wellbeing plus mitigating climate change, must be urgently recognised by governments, corporates and the financial sector alike. It’s up to governments to change rules of the economic game to encourage the maintenance of tropical forests, sustainable food production and sustainable finance - now. ”

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Rachel Mountain
Head of Communications
Global Canopy Programme
Email: r.mountain@globalcanopy.org
Tel: +44 (0)1865 724333

About the Global Canopy Programme

The Global Canopy Programme (GCP) is a tropical forest think tank working to demonstrate the scientific, political and business case for safeguarding forest ecosystems as natural capital that underpins water, food, energy, health and climate security for all. www.globalcanopy.org

About the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) will provide a clear view of the current state of scientific knowledge relevant to climate change. It will comprise three Working Group (WG) reports and a Synthesis Report (SYR). The outline and content can be found in the AR5 reference document and SYR Scoping document. http://www.ipcc.ch/

About the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) Working Group II Report

The Working Group II (WGII) contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report provides a comprehensive assessment of the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the vulnerability to climate change and the negative and positive consequences for ecological systems, socio-economic sectors and human health, with an emphasis on regional sectoral and cross sectoral issues. http://www.ipcc.ch/

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