UN climate scientists presented MEPs with new evidence on how climate change is affecting food production and oceans.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. In August, it presented a report on climate change and land and in September one on the oceans and cryosphere in a changing climate. The reports are the latest scientific input for the UN climate summit COP25 to be held in Madrid in December.
The scientists behind the reports presented their findings to Parliament’s environment, development and fisheries committees on Wednesday 6 November.
Food production and climate change a two-way street
Professor Jim Skea told MEPs climate change was exacerbating land degradation, such as erosion and pollution, which in turn affects infrastructure and people’s livelihoods. Better land management can help tackle climate change but it must be complemented by other action, he added.
Dr Jean-François Soussana noted that the food system accounts for between a fifth and a third of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. At the same time, climate change affects food security through declining crops of wheat and maize. He warned that in future the stability of our food supply would decrease further as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events increases.
Melting ice, rising seas
According to scientists, the rise in sea level is accelerating, mainly due to the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melting faster.
Professor Hans-Otto Pörtner warned that in a business as usual scenario the sea level is estimated to rise about five metres by 2300. In addition, in warming oceans marine life has access to less oxygen and nutrients, putting food security at risk for communities dependent on seafood.
Pörtner added: “To minimise the severity of the impact of climate change, every bit of warming matters, each year matters, each choice matters, and most importantly, political and societal will matters.”