The latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change and Land, makes absolutely clear that agriculture, so often the villain in discussions of the climate crisis, has enormous potential to help solve the problems climate change poses.
Food production is probably responsible for somewhere between 21% and 37% of human greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And yet, although agricultural production has increased along with emissions, the food it produces is increasingly associated with ill health. Climate change predicts that global food supply will become more precarious. The report calls for changes in food production, absolutely essential to maintain food security in the face of climate change, and points out that these changes offer opportunities to improve human well-being at the same time as delivering adaptation to and mitigation of climate change
Many of the IPCC’s recommendations are a strong endorsement of the work that Bioversity International has been carrying out over the past several years. For example, the report says that diversification – specifically including the use of a broader range of genetic resources and more diverse diets – can reduce the risks posed by climate change.
While the report’s authors have said in press conferences that they are not in the business of offering dietary advice, the report itself does say that “balanced diets, featuring plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-source foods produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems” will not only promote adaptation and mitigation but by improving human health will also reduce the cost of health care.