The Heat Is Online

Tropical Food Crops At High Risk From Warming

UNEP: Global warming to hit key food crops

Reuters News Service, Nov. 8, 2001
MARRAKESH, Morocco - Harvests of some of the world's key food crops could drop by up to 30 percent in the next 100 years due to global warming, a U.N. agency said.

The grim prediction was made by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in a document released in Marrakesh which hosts a U.N.-sponsored climate change conference.

The report said scientists have found "evidence that rising temperatures, linked with emissions of greenhouse gases, can damage the ability of vital crops such as wheat, rice and maize."

New studies indicate that yields could fall by as much as 10 per cent for every one degree Celsius rise in areas such as the Tropics.

It said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. team of scientists that advise governments, estimate that average global temperatures in the Tropics could climb by up to three degrees Celsius by 2100.

According to U.N. scientists, current climate models predict a global warming of about 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2100.

The UNEP report said a second group of the IPCC found that key cash crops such as coffee and tea in some of the major growing regions will also be vulnerable over the coming decades to global warming.

"They fear that desperate farmers will be forced into higher, cooler, mountainous areas intensifying pressure on sensitive forests and threatening wildlife and the quality and quantity of water supplies," it said.

The findings on staple food crops came from researchers at the Manila-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

"Billions of people across the tropics depend on crops such as rice, maize and wheat, for their very survival," the report quoted UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer as saying.

"These new findings indicate that large numbers are facing acute hunger and malnutrition unless the world acts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases," he added.


REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

Climate Change: Big Drop in Crop Yields Forecast

MARRAKECH, Morocco, November 7, 2001 (ENS) - Ministers and heads of government met today at the High-Level Segment of COP-7, the 7th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. They are working against a deadline of Friday night to finalize the rulebook for the Kyoto climate protocol that will limit the emission of greenhouse gases by industrialized nations.

UNEP today released scientific evidence that that rising temperatures, linked with emissions of greenhouse gases, can damage the ability of vital crops such as rice, corn and wheat, to flower and set seed. Key cash crops such as coffee and tea in some of the major growing regions will also be vulnerable over the coming decades to global warming.

New studies indicate that for every one degree Celsius rise in areas such as the Tropics, crop yields could drop by as much as 10 percent.

At a time when there is an urgent need to raise crop yields to feed a growing global population, harvests of some of the world's most important foods could fall by as much as a third as a result of climate change, scientists are warning.

The findings on staple food crops have come from researchers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in Manila, Philippines, which is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has worked with members of this Group on issues such as agro-forestry over recent years.

"A similar threat to cash crops is also emerging in areas such as East Africa," Toepfer said. "Poor farmers here face declining yields and incomes in the traditional coffee and tea growing areas pushing them into even more biting poverty. Just to survive, they will be forced to clear forests in higher, cooler, areas. This can only add to environmental damage which in turn can lead to increased poverty, hunger and ill health."

The findings on cash crops have come from GRID Arendal, a UNEP collaborative center based in southern Norway, known for its mapping skills.

 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the team of scientists that advises governments, estimate that average, global, temperatures in the Tropics could climb by as much as three degrees C by 2100.

Under scenarios developed by the IPCC, climate change could benefit agricultural production in some areas of the globe such as Canada and Siberia.

The negotiators worked through to an agreement on compliance with the limitations on the emission of six greenhouse gases - a contentious section of the Kyoto Protocol rulebook.

Delegates also adopted draft conclusions on the provision of financial and technical support. A number of key issues have yet to be resolved.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition UN framework climate change treaty, 38 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their emissions of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming. Thirty-nine were to have been governed by the original agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, but the Bush administration in March said that the United States would not ratify the protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol will not take effect until it is ratified by 55 percent of the nations responsible for at least 55 percent of the total carbon dioxide emissions for 1990.

The countries who ratify must reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases to an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels during the five year period 2008 to 2012.