Climate change will affect the natural and managed systems – hydrology, forests, wetlands, coral reefs, agriculture, and fisheries – that societies depend on for food, fuel, and fiber for safety, and for many other things. – The WDR 2010
Agriculture is both part of the climate change challenge and the solution.
Agriculture is responsible for 30% of human induced green house gas emissions, together with land use change and forestry. It is the primary driver of land use change and deforestation, and acceptable mitigation levels cannot be reached without improving land use practices.
Improving land use practices could reduce annual agricultural emissions by up to 88%, with 70% of this coming from developing countries. By far the greatest mitigation contribution originates from soil carbon sequestration but mitigation through reductions in methane and nitrous oxide emissions have great potential as well.
Major adverse impacts on food production and food security and stability in the developing world are expected as to result of changing temperatures and rainfall as well as from increased frequency of droughts and floods. The poorest of the poor will be the hardest hit, putting an estimated 600 million more people at risk of hunger by 2080. Decreases in crop yields due to loss of agricultural land and competition for resources may cause large scale migration and conflict.
Effective agricultural adaptation and mitigation offer the prospects of reducing GHG emissions while providing food and livelihoods for the poor. Promising approaches include changes in agricultural land management such as conservation tillage, agroforestry, and rehabilitation of degraded crop and pasture land. Improvements in ruminant livestock nutrition and genetics, storage and capture technologies for manure, and conversion of emissions into biogas can significantly reduce livestock's carbon footprint.
Many of those approaches have win-win outcomes in higher productivity, better management of natural resources, or the production of valuable by-products, such as bioenergy. Others require substantial investment at the global level, such as the development of low-emission rice varieties and livestock breeds. The “public good” nature of research in this area warrants international support for innovative, cost-effective solutions that will reduce emissions from livestock and rice paddy fields through advances in breeding and through the use of advanced biotechnologies.
The following documents produced this year by the Agriculture and Rural Development unit at World Bank are addressing this prominent issue in detail:
· Bioenergy Development: Issues and Impacts for Poverty and Natural Resource Management
· Reduced Emissions and Enhanced Adaptation in Agricultural Landscapes
· Climate Change Response Strategies for Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century
· Sustainable Land Management Sourcebook
· Forests Sourcebook
· Minding the Stock: Bringing Public Policy to Bear on Livestock Sector Development
· Agricultural Development under a Changing Climate: Opportunities and Challenges for Adaptation
· Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook
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