Journal Publications Biosciences

European Parliament

Briefing Paper - Requested by the ENVI committee

Climate change and its impact on food and nutrition security

Author: Robin Fears


There is increasing evidence for negative effects of climate change on food and nutrition security in the European Union (EU). Impacts on agriculture are mediated, for example, by changes in temperature, precipitation, extreme weather events and variation in patterns of pests and diseases. Among the impacts are reduced cereal yields in southern Europe, reduced yield and nutrient content of fruit and vegetables, changing fisheries, and expanding distribution of livestock infections. Certain geographical regions and population groups are particularly vulnerable. Options for adaptation include modifying farming practices, and breeding crops more resilient to biotic and abiotic stress.

In addition, agriculture itself, and food systems more generally, contribute substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. Mitigation options include reducing food loss and waste, improving farming practice, and modifying food intake patterns. Adjusting dietary consumption, particularly to reduce the excess consumption of calories and large amounts of food from animal sources, will bring health co-benefits alongside the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and alleviation of pressures on other natural resources.

The consequences of COVID-19 on food and nutrition security may have been aggravated by the impacts of climate change decreasing food system resilience. In planning for the post-COVID-19 recovery, it is vital that the gradual resumption of economic and social activity is achieved together with accelerating progress towards a low-carbon economy in the EU. Pursuing food system mitigation activities to tackle climate change will help to support European Green Deal objectives and facilitate the low-carbon recovery after COVID-19.

Print ISBN 978-92-846-7494-7 | doi:10.2861/337445 | QA-06-20-046-EN-C

PDF ISBN 978-92-846-7493-0 | doi:10.2861/87399 | QA-06-20-046-EN-N

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