Major drop in crop production due to climate change: IPCC report

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s report on Monday said that globally, high temperatures and extreme weather events, such as droughts, extreme rainfall events, heatwaves and floods, are damaging crops and will increasingly limit crop production if temperatures continue to rise.

These factors, along with saltwater intrusion from sea-level rise, will harm agriculture in India, which is considered by the report as the most vulnerable country in terms of crop production.

Rice, wheat, pulses, and coarse cereal yields could fall almost 9 per cent by 2050 while in south India, maize production could decrease 17 per cent if emissions are high (meaning, the global temperature rise continues at higher rate). “These disruptions to crop production are expected to cause price spikes in India, threatening food affordability, food security and economic growth,” the report said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group II (WRG II) report – titled IPCC AR6 WGII ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ – has pointed out the range of impacts India is vulnerable to: heat stress, which can increase beyond the threshold of human survivability, impacts on food production due to climate change, which includes food crops, fisheries, compounding disasters, and disasters elsewhere that will impact international supply chains, markets, trade, and result in economic shocks, among others.

Continued climate change will also cause declines in India’s fisheries as key commercial species, such as hilsa, shad and Bombay duck, are projected to decline dramatically if temperatures continue to rise. The energy harnessed by marine plants and algae – crucial for strong fisheries – in the western Indian Ocean has already declined 20 per cent in the last 60 years due to climate change reducing the nutrient mixing between ocean levels.

Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association said: “We need a pro-poor and inclusive approach to climate change action. More than just social imagery of sustainable life, we need a participatory, decentralised, futuristic and technology-enabled action on planning, building, and managing rural and urban life.”

“With India’s immense cultural, ecological and landscape diversity, this constitutes the way forward. Ignoring the science as represented, albeit in an understated manner by the IPCC reports, would be akin to choosing extinction over survival. Let us not choose extinction,” he warned.

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