Written by Nereus Research Associate Ryan Swanson,

Nereus Program director (science) William Cheung (UBC) and Rashid Sumaila (UBC) are co-authors with others on a recent study published in Science Advances, “Escaping the perfect storm of simultaneous climate change impacts on agriculture and marine fisheries“. The authors focus on the global agriculture and marine fisheries sectors, looking at 240 and 194 countries for each one, respectively. These two sectors were chosen due to their key roles in “global food security, human health, economic growth and employment worldwide”, and because of their vulnerability to the impacts of future climate change. The authors use and contrast two greenhouse gas emissions scenarios – “business-as-usual” (RCP8.5) and strong mitigation (RCP2.6) – and investigate how vulnerability dimensions (exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity) of the two sectors “interact and co-occur under future climate scenarios” to develop priority areas that more integrated policy interventions can target. They find the countries most vulnerable to negative changes in agriculture and fisheries productivity to be within equatorial tropical regions (Latin America, Central and Southern Africa and SE Asia), with countries in more northern regions (Europe and North America) being less negatively impacted and some even benefiting, such as Canada and Russia. In order to curb the worst impacts, they stress that climate action will be necessary to benefit “an overwhelming majority” of the global population, and that the “future will…entail societal adaptation [to] include adjustments within and across food production sectors.” You can read the abstract and access the article below.

Abstract: Climate change can alter conditions that sustain food production and availability, with cascading consequences for food security and global economies. Here, we evaluate the vulnerability of societies to the simultaneous impacts of climate change on agriculture and marine fisheries at a global scale. Under a “business-as-usual” emission scenario, ~90% of the world’s population—most of whom live in the most sensitive and least developed countries—are projected to be exposed to losses of food production in both sectors, while less than 3% would live in regions experiencing simultaneous productivity gains by 2100. Under a strong mitigation scenario comparable to achieving the Paris Agreement, most countries—including the most vulnerable and many of the largest CO2 producers—would experience concomitant net gains in agriculture and fisheries production. Reducing societies’ vulnerability to future climate impacts requires prompt mitigation actions led by major CO2 emitters coupled with strategic adaptation within and across sectors.


L. Thiault, C.Mora, J. E. Cinner,W. W. L. Cheung, N. A. J. Graham, F. A. Januchowski-Hartley, D. Mouillot, U. R. Sumaila, J. Claudet, Escaping the perfect storm of simultaneous climate change impacts on agriculture and marine fisheries. Sci. Adv. 5, eaaw9976 (2019). link

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