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Climate Change and Agriculture

Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

image of Climate Change and Agriculture

Climate change is likely to have significant impacts on the agricultural sector to which farmers will have to adapt. While agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it is also a source of carbon storage in soils. This report examines the economic and policy issues related to the impacts of climate change on agriculture and adaptation responses and to the mitigation of greenhouse gases from agriculture. It outlines research undertaken and underway in other national and international research agencies. It also highlights some of the knowledge gaps on the impacts of climate change on food production and the uncertainties of those impacts in a global context that warrant further research efforts. In particular, the report analyses marginal abatement cost curves, which show the relative costs of achieving reductions in greenhouse gas emission through the implementation of different actions in the agricultural sector. The aim of the report is to help guide policy makers in the design of policies to address climate change issues in agriculture.

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Introduction

Agriculture is essentially a man-made adjunct to natural ecosystems and is weather and climate dependent. It is also a significant source of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases, which are coming under increasing scrutiny as countries seek to meet binding mitigation targets. New challenges are emerging in terms of how we interpret the impacts of warming, how farming systems adapt or are adapted to these changes, and how near-term emissions mitigation requirements can take place in ways that are consistent with longer-term adaptation plans. These increasingly urgent challenges coincide with a process of sector reform in many OECD countries, which is focussed on ways to rebalance the economic, social and environmental objectives for the sector. This process offers a window of opportunity for accommodating mitigation and adaptation options within new agri-environmental arrangements. But all these reforms will affect and be affected by a global agricultural trading system, which is increasingly being required to deliver on ancillary policy objectives (e.g. energy and food security, and poverty alleviation), but which itself is vulnerable to climate shocks.

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