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Cutting carbon emissions could have indirect effects on hunger

Date:
June 10, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
As many of the world's nations prepare and implement plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, researchers say another critical factor needs to be considered. A new study has found for the first time that efforts to keep global temperatures in check will likely lead to more people going hungry. That risk doesn't negate the need for mitigation but highlights the importance of comprehensive policies.
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Competition for agricultural land and other climate mitigation factors could lead to more people going hungry.
Credit: © Dusan Kostic / Fotolia

As many of the world's nations prepare and implement plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, researchers say another critical factor needs to be considered. A new study has found for the first time that efforts to keep global temperatures in check will likely lead to more people going hungry. That risk, they say in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, doesn't negate the need for mitigation but highlights the importance of comprehensive policies.

Previous studies have shown that climate change reduces how much food farms can produce, which could lead to more people suffering from hunger. Curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change can help maintain the yields of existing crops.

But there might be indirect ways in which cutting emissions could actually put more people at risk of going hungry. For example, some grasses and other vegetation used for biofuels require agricultural land that might otherwise be used for food production. So, increased biofuel consumption could negatively affect the food supply. Also, the high cost of low-emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be borne by consumers, who will then have less money to spend on food. Tomoko Hasegawa and colleagues wanted to get a better idea of how these pieces fit together.

The researchers used multiple models to determine the effects of strict emissions cuts and found that many more people would be at risk of hunger than if those cuts weren't in place. The team concludes that governments will have to take measures, such as increasing food aid, as they address climate change.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tomoko Hasegawa, Shinichiro Fujimori, Yonghee Shin, Akemi Tanaka, Kiyoshi Takahashi, Toshihiko Masui. Consequence of Climate Mitigation on the Risk of Hunger. Environmental Science & Technology, 2015; 150602131135007 DOI: 10.1021/es5051748

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Cutting carbon emissions could have indirect effects on hunger." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150610111133.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, June 10). Cutting carbon emissions could have indirect effects on hunger. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150610111133.htm
American Chemical Society. "Cutting carbon emissions could have indirect effects on hunger." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150610111133.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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