A new summary report published jointly by BSR and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Cambridge Judge Business School, with support from the European Climate Foundation, distills the key findings from the recently released Intergovernmental Panel (IPCC) on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report for the agriculture sector.
 
The report, one in a 13-part series that translates the IPCC assessments for business leaders, reveals that climate-related impacts are already reducing crop yields in some parts of the world—a trend that is projected to continue as temperatures rise further.
 
“This report, released as part of BSR’s Business in a Climate-Constrained World initiative, provides ambitious, actionable steps the agriculture industry can adopt today to begin reducing its climate impacts and to build resilience for the sector,” said Edward Cameron, the report’s lead author and BSR’s Director, Partnership Development and Research.
 
Findings from the report include:

  • Climate-related impacts are already reducing crop yields in some parts of the world, a trend that is projected to continue as temperatures rise.
  • Farmers can adapt to some changes, but there is a limit to what can be managed. The agricultural industry’s own interests are best served by ambitious approaches to adaptation and to cutting emissions.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from agriculture comprised about 10 to 12 percent of manmade GHG emissions in 2010.
  • Opportunities for mitigation include reducing emissions from land-use change, land management, and livestock management.
  • The potential for reducing GHG emissions through changes in consumption could be substantially higher than technical mitigation options.

The report also notes specific ways climate change will affect the agriculture industry—including on food security, crop yields, developing countries, water security, price volatility, food quality, pests and disease, livestock, labor, and the supply chain—and it offers supply- and demand-side opportunities for managing risk and building resilience to climate change.
 
“This publication clearly highlights the stress that climate change will place on supply chains and food security,” said Stuart Lendrum, Head of Sustainable and Ethical Sourcing, Sainsbury’s. “As a retailer, we play a critical role in working in partnership with our suppliers, supporting them to reduce their emissions and increase their resilience to those impacts already built into the system.”