Cli­mate Change Puts Asia’s Vi­tal Yields at High Risk

Trillions - - In This Issue -

ROME, Aug 28 2017 (IPS) - While main­stream me­dia have been widely re­port­ing on the dra­matic con­se­quences of trop­i­cal storm Harvey in the United States, which has been char­ac­terised as the fiercest hur­ri­cane to hit this coun­try in over a decade, global warming is ex­pected to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on “fu­ture yields of ev­ery­thing from rice to fish, par­tic­u­larly in coun­tries sit­u­ated closer to the equa­tor,” the United Na­tions warned.

Ge­o­graph­i­cally, the neg­a­tive im­pact of cli­mate change on agri­cul­tural out­put could re­sult in lower yields of rice, wheat, corn and soy­beans in coun­tries with trop­i­cal cli­mates, com­pared with the im­pacts ex­pe­ri­enced by those in higher lat­i­tudes, the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) re­ported.

Fish­eries could also be af­fected by changes to water tem­per­a­ture.

At the meet­ing in Viet Nam of agri­cul­ture min­is­ters from Asia-pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) on 25 Au­gust, the UN spe­cialised body in­formed that many key agri­cul­tural re­gions in Asia are “already at risk of cross­ing key cli­mate thresh­olds af­ter which the pro­duc­tiv­ity of plants and an­i­mals goes into de­cline.”

For ex­am­ple, re­search by FAO and other or­gan­i­sa­tions has found that there are re­gions within Asia that are already near the “heat stress lim­its” for rice. Changes in spe­cific cli­mate vari­ables are im­por­tant too –for ex- am­ple, in­creased night-time tem­per­a­tures have been found to have a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive im­pact on rice yields.

Based on the find­ings of the global re­search com­mu­nity, the In­ter­na­tional Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) an­tic­i­pates that th­ese trends are ex­pected to worsen in the fu­ture with the pro­jected im­pacts of an­thro­pogenic cli­mate change, FAO re­minded.

The Full Force of Agri­cul­ture Losses

Many APEC economies have already felt the full force of agri­cul­tural losses from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in re­cent years, with the vast ma­jor­ity of th­ese be­ing cli­mate re­lated, said Kund­havi Kadire­san, As­sis­tant Di­rec­tor-gen­eral and FAO Re­gional Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Asia and the Pa­cific.

“The an­nual tally runs into the bil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars in losses. So the time to act is now. Pol­icy mak­ers need to pre­pare for changes in sup­ply, shift­ing trade pat­terns and a need for greater in­vest­ment in agri­cul­ture, fish­eries, land and water man­age­ment, that will ben­e­fit small­holder farm­ers and oth­ers that pro­duce our food.”

Ac­cord­ing to Kadire­san, it is “im­per­a­tive that we start think­ing now about the hard de­ci­sions and ac­tions that the APEC economies, and oth­ers, will need to take.”

The agri­cul­ture sec­tors ac­count for at least one-fifth of to­tal emis­sions, mainly from the con­ver­sion of forests

to farm­land as well as from live­stock and paddy pro­duc­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of syn­thetic fer­tilis­ers.

And it has been es­ti­mated that as much as 70 per cent of the tech­ni­cal po­ten­tial to re­duce emis­sions from the agri­cul­ture sec­tors oc­curs in trop­i­cal de­vel­op­ing coun­tries that char­ac­terise much of Asia.

Ac­tion Un­der­way

In Viet Nam, the UN spe­cialised body has been work­ing with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral Devel­op­ment to as­sess the emis­sions re­duc­tion po­ten­tial of the Sys­tem of Rice In­ten­si­fi­ca­tion and im­proved live­stock man­age­ment as con­tri­bu­tions to Na­tion­ally Ap­pro­pri­ate Mit­i­ga­tion Ac­tions and Viet Nam’s pri­or­i­ties for agri­cul­ture.

In Cam­bo­dia, Pa­pua New Guinea and Mon­go­lia, FAO, in part­ner­ship with the Global En­vi­ron­ment Fa­cil­ity (GEF), has re­cently started de­vel­op­ing pro­grammes un­der the Capacity Build­ing Ini­tia­tive for Trans­parency to strengthen na­tional level capacity to mea­sure, mon­i­tor and re­port emis­sions and adap­ta­tion ac­tions in the agri­cul­ture and land-use sec­tors.

Th­ese pro­grammes draw upon a range of geospa­tial and mea­sure­ment tools FAO has de­vel­oped through its global pro­gramme on Mit­i­gat­ing the Im­pacts of Cli­mate Change in Agri­cul­ture.

In the forestry sec­tor, avoid­ing de­for­esta­tion, in­creas­ing the area un­der for­est, and adopt­ing sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment will cre­ate in­valu­able car­bon sinks. FAO has been sup­port­ing na­tional pro­grammes for re­duced emis­sions from de­for­esta­tion and for­est degra­da­tion (REDD+).

APEC, as an or­gan­i­sa­tion of Pa­cific Rim economies, “is well placed to take on a lead­ing role, with strong and wide rang­ing po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment, given that its mem­ber­ship in­cludes sev­eral of the world’s largest and wealth­i­est economies, as well as some of the small­est and poor­est. “

Many are home to some of the finest re­search institutes with some of the bright­est minds, it added. “APEC could, thus, set an ex­am­ple for the rest of the world.”

Mil­lions Af­fected by Flood­ing, Land­slides

The min­is­te­rial meet­ing took place while UN hu­man­i­tar­ian agen­cies were –and still are–work­ing with the gov­ern­ment and part­ners in Nepal to bring in clean water, food, shel­ter and med­i­cal aid for some of the 41 mil­lion peo­ple af­fected by flood­ing and land­slides in South Asia.

Nearly a thou­sand peo­ple have been killed, and tens of thou­sands of homes, schools and hos­pi­tals have been de­stroyed in Bangladesh, In­dia and Nepal, the UN re­ported.

“There is the pos­si­bil­ity that the sit­u­a­tion could de­te­ri­o­rate fur­ther as rains con­tinue in some flood-af­fected ar­eas and flood wa­ters move south,” the UN Of­fice for the Co­or­di­na­tion of Hu­man­i­tar­ian Af­fairs (OCHA) on 24 Au­gust said.

In Bangladesh, nearly 2,000 lo­cal med­i­cal teams have been de­ployed, even as one-third of the coun­try is re­port­edly un­derwater. Aid work­ers are con­cerned about wa­ter­borne dis­eases, such as di­ar­rhoea and malaria.

“Their most ur­gent con­cern is to ac­cess­ing safe water and san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties,” OCHA said, cit­ing na­tional au­thor­i­ties.

It also warned of “dan­gers to women and chil­dren, who are at in­creased risk for abuse, vi­o­lence and sexual ha­rass­ment. “

In In­dia, res­cue op­er­a­tions are on-go­ing in many flood-af­fected ar­eas, with those stranded be­ing res­cued by he­li­copter. Flood re­lief camps have been es­tab­lished for those dis­placed by the dis­as­ter where they are be­ing pro­vided with food and shel­ter, OCHA said.

Photo by ar­if_shamim, CC

Photo by Car­i­tas In­ter­na­tion­alis, CC

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