Climate Change and Agricultural Production: An Overview of Risks and Opportunities

Population growth and income-driven dietary shifts are projected to increase agricultural emissions by 90 percent by 2050.

Although climate change is likely to affect agriculture differently from region to region, the scientific consensus is that it will have major, generally negative impacts on food systems. Erratic weather, the effects of temperature shifts and sea level rise threaten current agricultural systems, and will continue to impact global food production unless we take action.

Climate change harms agricultural production in the following ways:

  • Warmer mean temperatures and hotter extremes result in reduced crop yields and increased animal loss from heat stress and disease.
  • Increased probability of drought and precipitation deficits increases crop stress and reduces livestock yield.
  • Increased frequency, intensity and/or amount of heavy precipitation degrades and inundates farms and livestock operations.

In addition to harming agricultural production in the short term, some climate impacts can have long lasting or irreversible effects:

  • Salt water intrusion and the rise in sea levels in some coastal regions of the world result in a reduction in usable cropland.
  • Disruption of the movement of water in the atmosphere as a result of the dieback of tropical forests could cause major shifts in precipitation in key agricultural areas.
  • Climate change reduces biodiversity, such as by reducing the populations of pollinating insects, which can threaten agricultural resilience and crop productivity.