The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is being welcomed by New Zealand farming leaders as an endorsement of our low impact systems and the importance of maintaining food production.
The IPCC says land on which we rely for food, water, energy, health and wellbeing is already under pressure and climate change will exacerbate that through desertification and land degradation potentially affecting food security.
The report’s advocacy of a balanced diet including animal protein sourced from resilient, sustainable, low greenhouse gas systems is an endorsement for NZ, Beef + Lamb chief insight officer Jeremy Baker says.
“This is the NZ red meat production system.
“It is definitely not saying that we all need to become vegetarian or vegan.”
It is an opportunity to ramp up promotion of the Taste Pure Nature brand, to tell 40 million global meat eaters about NZ’s low-carbon footprint, he says.
The brand has been launched in California and will next be promoted in Shanghai. B+LNZ is talking to meat companies and the Government about investing in that promotion.
DairyNZ climate change ambassador Trish Rankin is heartened the report says some sectors need to reduce their emissions faster to ensure food production is not jeopardised.
“We need food so other sectors need to do better.
“This is a breath of fresh air for someone to finally say that.”
Rankin says while previous reports have been scathing of farming, this one is less so.
“I felt like this report has helped us turn a corner, that farmers are affected by climate change but we also really need them.”
The report found global food systems account for a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural emissions of nitrous oxide and methane are increasing.
But land also has a role as a carbon sink, absorbing 30% of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2017.
Crop production is being affected by higher temperatures, changing rain patterns and greater frequency of extreme events.
In northern China regional warming and innovation have increased rice yields but in India warming has reduced wheat yields by 5.2% from 1981 to 2009 while Africa’s yields of maize, wheat, sorghum and fruit have decreased.
The report warns consumption patterns, land management and population growth will determine the planet’s future in a changing climate.
“Pathways with higher demand for food, feed, and water, more resource-intensive consumption and production and more limited technological improvements in agriculture yields, result in higher risks from water scarcity in drylands, land degradation and food insecurity.”
Report contributor Associate Professor Anita Wreford, of Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economic Research Unit, says it shows the importance of not implementing contradictory policies.
“The report is highly relevant for NZ as we grapple with the trade-offs involved with reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change, managing the areas we value and maintaining and supporting our communities and societies in this process.