Climate change and agriculture: report urges action on adaptation

climate change and agriculture
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A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) cautions of the destructive impact of climate change on agriculture in the EU.

The ‘Climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector in Europe’ report identified projected decreases in production of both crops and livestock as a direct result of climate change-related causes, particularly in the Southern and Mediterranean regions of the EU; with production in some areas at risk of running out entirely. The report advocates an immediate, drastic programme of adaptation to climate change by the agriculture sector in order to offset the worst impacts of the climate emergency.

The EEA’s analysis is consistent with the special report produced last month by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which urged a greater focus on sustainable land use to mitigate the impact of climate change. The EEA report notes: ‘Impacts on agricultural production can lead to economic and social impacts related to livelihoods linked to the farming sector and food security. Given this, there is a cascade of impacts from climate change that affect agro-ecosystems and agricultural production, and in turn influence the price, quantity and quality of products, and consequently trade patterns, agricultural income and food prices. At the global scale, these cascading impacts affect food security and nutrition, mainly for people who directly depend on agriculture for their food and livelihood.’

Adverse events associated with the climate emergency, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires, have increased throughout Europe; with deleterious impacts on the agriculture industry. Some parts of Southern Europe could see a reduction of up to 50% in non-irrigated crop yields; with farmland values projected to drop by more than 80% by the end of the century.

EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said: “New records are being set around the world due to climate change and the adverse effects of this change are already affecting agricultural production in Europe, especially in the South. Despite some progress, much more must be done to adapt by the sector itself – especially at farm level – and future EU policies need to be designed in a way to facilitate and accelerate transition in this sector.”

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