Food insecurity can be directly exacerbated by climate change due to crop-production-related impacts of warmer and drier conditions that are expected in important agricultural regions1,2,3. However, efforts to mitigate climate change through comprehensive, economy-wide GHG emissions reductions may also negatively affect food security, due to indirect impacts on prices and supplies of key agricultural commodities4,5,6. Here we conduct a multiple model assessment on the combined effects of climate change and climate mitigation efforts on agricultural commodity prices, dietary energy availability and the population at risk of hunger. A robust finding is that by 2050, stringent climate mitigation policy, if implemented evenly across all sectors and regions, would have a greater negative impact on global hunger and food consumption than the direct impacts of climate change. The negative impacts would be most prevalent in vulnerable, low-income regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where food security problems are already acute.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $17.42 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Asseng, S. et al. Rising temperatures reduce global wheat production. Nat. Clim. Change 5, 143–147 (2015).
Nelson, G. C. et al. Climate change effects on agriculture: Economic responses to biophysical shocks. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3274–3279 (2014).
Rosenzweig, C.., & Parry, M. L.. Potential impact of climate change on world food supply. Nature 367, 133–138 (1994).
Havlik, P. et al. Climate change mitigation through livestock system transitions. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3709–3714 (2014).
Hasegawa, T. et al. Consequence of climate mitigation on the risk of hunger. Environ. Sci. Technol. 49, 7245–7253 (2015).
van Meijl, H. et al. Comparing impacts of climate change and mitigation on global agriculture by 2050. Environ. Res. Lett. 13, 064021 (2018).
Decision 1/CP.21: Adoption of the Paris Agreement FCCC/CP/2015/10/Add.1 (UNFCCC, 2016); https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/10a01.pdf
Renewables 2007 Global Status Report (REN21 & Worldwatch Institute, 2008).
Zekarias, H., Thomas, H. & Alla, G. Climate change mitigation policies and poverty in developing countries. Environ. Res. Lett. 8, 035009 (2013).
Hertel, T. W. & Rosch, S. D. Climate change, agriculture, and poverty. Appl. Econ. Perspect. Policy 32, 355–385 (2010).
Lotze-Campen, H. et al. Impacts of increased bioenergy demand on global food markets: an AgMIP economic model intercomparison. Agric. Econ. 45, 103–116 (2014).
von Lampe, M. et al. Why do global long-term scenarios for agriculture differ? An overview of the AgMIP Global Economic Model Intercomparison. Agric. Econ. 45, 3–20 (2014).
Baldos, U. L. C. & Hertel, T. W. Global food security in 2050: the role of agricultural productivity and climate change. Aust. J. Agric. Resour. Econ. 58, 554–570 (2014).
Hasegawa, T. et al. Climate change impact and adaptation assessment on food consumption utilizing a new scenario framework. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48, 438–445 (2014).
Popp, A. et al. Land-use futures in the shared socio-economic pathways. Glob. Environ. Change 42, 331–345 (2017).
Popp, A. et al. Land-use transition for bioenergy and climate stabilization: model comparison of drivers, impacts and interactions with other land use based mitigation options. Climatic Change 123, 495–509 (2014).
Frank, S. et al. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture without compromising food security? Environ. Res. Lett. 12, 105004 (2017).
Food Security Indicators (FAO, 2016); https://go.nature.com/2NUkSXG
Springmann, M. et al. Mitigation potential and global health impacts from emissions pricing of food commodities. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 69–74 (2017).
Herrero, M. et al. Biomass use, production, feed efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 110, 20888–20893 (2013).
O’Neill, B. et al. A new scenario framework for climate change research: the concept of shared socioeconomic pathways. Climatic Change 122, 387–400 (2014).
van Vuuren, D. et al. RCP2.6: exploring the possibility to keep global mean temperature increase below 2 °C. Climatic Change 109, 95–116 (2011).
Masui, T. et al. An emission pathway for stabilization at 6 W m−2 radiative forcing. Climatic Change 109, 59–76 (2011).
Riahi, K. et al. The Shared Socioeconomic Pathways and their energy, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions implications: An overview. Glob. Environ. Change 42, 153–168 (2017).
Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) Database v.0.9.3 (IIASA, 2012).
Fujimori S. et al. in Post-2020 Climate Action: Global and Asian Perspectives (eds Fujimori, S. & Masui, T.) 11–29 (Springer, Singapore, 2017).
Fujimori, S. et al. Will international emissions trading help achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement? Environ. Res. Lett. 11, 104001 (2016).
Mosnier, A. et al. Alternative U.S. biofuel mandates and global GHG emissions: The role of land use change, crop management and yield growth. Energy Policy 57, 602–614 (2013).
Frank, S. et al. How effective are the sustainability criteria accompanying the European Union 2020 biofuel targets? GCB Bioenergy 5, 306–314 (2013).
Zhang, Y. W. & McCarl, B. A. US agriculture under climate change: An examination of climate change effects on ease of achieving RFS2. Econ. Res. Int. 2013, 763818 (2013).
Banse, M., van Meijl, H., Tabeau, A. & Woltjer, G. Will EU biofuel policies affect global agricultural markets? Eur. Rev. Agric. Econ. 35, 117–141 (2008).
Taylor, K. E., Stouffer, R. J. & Meehl, G. A. An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 93, 485–498 (2012).
Williams, J. R. in Computer Models of Watershed Hydrology (ed. Singh, V. P.) 909–1000 (Water Resources Publications, Highlands Ranch, CO, 1995).
Bondeau, A. et al. Modelling the role of agriculture for the 20th century global terrestrial carbon balance. Glob. Change Biol. 13, 679–706 (2007).
Müller, C. & Robertson, R. Projecting future crop productivity for global economic modeling. Agric. Econ. 45, 37–50 (2014).
Elliott, J. et al. The parallel system for integrating impact models and sectors (pSIMS). Environ. Model. Softw. 62, 509–516 (2014).
Jones, J. W. et al. The DSSAT cropping system model. Eur. J. Agron. 18, 235–265 (2003).
Warszawski, L. et al. The Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI–MIP): Project framework. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 111, 3228–3232 (2014).
You L. et al. Spatial Production Allocation Model (SPAM) 2000 v.3 Release 2 (MapSPAM, 2010).
Reisinger, A. et al. Implications of alternative metrics for global mitigation costs and greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Climatic Change 117, 677–690 (2013).
Gernaat, D. E. H. J. et al. Understanding the contribution of non-carbon dioxide gases in deep mitigation scenarios. Glob. Environ. Change 33, 142–153 (2015).
Wollenberg, E. et al. Reducing emissions from agriculture to meet the 2 °C target. Glob. Change Biol. 22, 3859–3864 (2016).
Calvin, K. et al. 2.6: Limiting climate change to 450 ppm CO2 equivalent in the 21st century. Energy Econ. 31, S107–S120 (2009).
Wise, M. et al. Implications of limiting CO2 concentrations for land use and energy. Science 324, 1183–1186 (2009).
Robinson, S. et al. Comparing supply-side specifications in models of global agriculture and the food system. Agric. Econ. 45, 21–35 (2014).
Cafiero, C. Advances in Hunger Measurement: Traditional FAO Methods and Recent Innovations (FAO, 2014).
Hasegawa, T., Fujimori, S., Takahashi, K. & Masui, T. Scenarios for the risk of hunger in the twenty-first century using Shared Socioeconomic Pathways. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 014010 (2015).
FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP & WHO The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017: Building Resilience for Peace and Food Security (FAO, 2017)
Energy and Protein Requirements (FAO & WHO, 1973).
T.H., S.F., K.T. and J.T. acknowledge support from the Environment Research and Technology Development Fund 2-1702 of the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan and the JSPS Overseas Research Fellowships. P.H., H.V. A.T. and H.v.M. acknowledge support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (EU H2020) under grant agreement no. 633692 (SUSFANS project). B.L.B. acknowledges support from the EU H2020 under grant agreement no. 689150 (SIM4NEXUS project). K.W., T.B.S. and D.M.D. acknowledge support from the CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). This study has been partly funded by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (AGCLIM50 Project).
The authors declare no competing interests. The views expressed are solely those of the authors and do not represent an official position of the employers or funders involved in the study.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Hasegawa, T., Fujimori, S., Havlík, P. et al. Risk of increased food insecurity under stringent global climate change mitigation policy. Nature Clim Change 8, 699–703 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0230-x
GLOBAL MARKET AND ECONOMIC WELFARE IMPLICATIONS OF CHANGES IN AGRICULTURAL YIELDS DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate Change Economics (2020)
Global Environmental Change (2020)
Journal of Experimental Botany (2020)
Briefings in Functional Genomics (2020)
Nature Food (2020)