Thursday, August 20, 2009

Climate change hit poor farmers hardest

Sydney Morning Herald, August 21, 2009 

Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and similarly poor nations have the most to lose as the Earth gets warmer, highlighting the need to supply them with drought- resistant seeds and more effective water irrigation.

A study by Danish professor Bjoern Lomborg showed that faltering crops may cut as much as 4 per cent of gross domestic production in southern Asia by 2050. It also said climate change will impact other sectors including health and energy less.

Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia are among the regions that will most severely affected by global warming, Carlo Carraro, an economics professor at the University of Venice, and colleagues wrote in the report. Helping poor farmers cope with higher temperatures of 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) or more by 2030 would need a $US14 billion ($16.8 billion) investment.

Spending money to adapt to changes in rain patterns, higher sea levels and increases in diseases gives a better return on investment than cutting carbon-dioxide emissions and airborne pollutants that are blamed on global warming, Lomborg said.

''Getting a deal on adaptation is much more important than getting one of cutting emissions,'' Lomborg said in an interview. ``We like to hear about dramatic things like seas rising but in fact it's sectors like agriculture and tourism in developing countries that will be the worst to suffer.''

New seeds, better irrigation

Negotiators from more than 180 nations will attempt to reach an agreement on how to reduce greenhouse gases at UN- sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen in December. So far, delegates have failed to find a solution on how to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius or share money and technology with developing countries to help them adapt.

New kinds of seeds that withstand higher temperatures and less water, better irrigation equipment and techniques as well as educating people on ways to cope with changing climates and conditions are better uses for investments, the report said.

The world will need to spend $US10 trillion on adaptation, which will avoid $US16 trillion worth of climate damage, along with a small amount of cuts in CO2, the authors wrote.

The paper was prepared for the Danish research group Copenhagen Consensus Center, headed by Lomborg. The Copenhagen Business School professor has garnered attention for challenging UN-led efforts to tackle carbon-dioxide emissions.

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