11 January 2024 | Category: Agriculture, Policy

Closing the climate action gap in agriculture: From intent to reality

By Shalika Vyas

PhD researcher...

A recently published article presents a comprehensive framework for global monitoring and tracking of climate action based on intent, need, scope, and readiness of climate policies in food systems.

Climate change acts as a risk multiplier by exacerbating biodiversity loss, perpetuating poverty traps through extreme weather events, and posing threats to global geo-political security and trade through population displacement, resource conflicts and economic instability. Global policy efforts are required to strengthen adaptation pathways and minimize mitigation losses wherever possible, in local contexts of different nations, while also contributing to the sustainable development goals.

A new policy framework for global climate action

The UNFCC Paris Agreement—to limit global warming below 2 degrees, is hailed as one of the most ambitious climate policy actions globally. The adaptation and mitigation goals in agriculture are pledged in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by more than 140 countries. A recent perspective article seeks to understand the alignment of such NDC contributions with the appropriate enabling conditions using a framework with four dimensions—the need, intent, scope, and readiness for climate action. Globally, few monitoring systems exist to track, understand the catalysts needed to drive these actions and recognize limits to adaptation and mitigation based on available resources.

A global illustration and policy implications

Our paper highlights the results by populating the proposed framework with globally available indicators for each of the four dimensions. These range from NDC focus to food insecurity, climate change projections, yield gaps, emission intensity and socio-economic factors like GDP, education, health (among others).

The results highlight the need for urgent action required for adaptation in agriculture—61 countries (including key food producers) have a high need for adaptation but have a mismatch with other dimensions. Countries/regions like Brazil, most of Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, Bangladesh and Indonesia require focus on adaptation actions in agriculture, due to high need whereas scope and/or readiness are low. A few higher-income countries in Europe are also hotspots due to projected climate change impacts and limited biophysical scope for adaptation.

The analysis has several policy implications, including an urgent need to scale adaptation efforts across food systems, while being cognizant of the limits to which they can adapt, and the resources needed. As countries learn to adjust to the new realities of climate change, scaling adaptation and mitigation will play a key role in changing the landscape of climate action. Prioritizing action through mechanisms, as shown in the paper, can be one way to identify hotspots where transformations are needed the most.

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By Shalika Vyas

PhD researcher

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