Trade-offs between food security and climate mitigation


In a study published today in Nature Sustainability, an international research group that included researchers from IIASA, Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan University, and the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Japan, for the first time estimated how food security could be negatively affected by the climate mitigation policies implemented by multi-Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) and the cost associated with avoiding adverse side effects. More specifically, they clarified the relationship between food security and climate mitigation, and provided cost estimates for possible solutions to the trade-off between food security and climate mitigation, taking into account the uncertainty represented by an ensemble of IAMs.

Food security is one of the areas addressed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The aim of SDG2 in particular, is to achieve “zero-hunger” by 2030. The issue of food security has been studied extensively in the context of climate change impacts associated with yield changes over the last few decades, and more recent studies also explored the effect of climate change mitigation on agricultural markets.

The Paris Agreement defines a long-term temperature goal for international climate policy: “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. Accordingly, studies investigating the climate change mitigation required by the Paris objectives have identified a potential need for land-based measures like afforestation and large-scale bioenergy production, which could in turn raise concerns about implications for food security. These low emission scenarios are making the connection between SDG2 (hunger) and SDG13, which specifically concerns climate action, increasingly crucial.

Source: Weighing up trade-offs between food security and climate mitigation