In May an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report compiled by scientists and officials from more than 100 countries recommended drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to contain global warming.
It said that an increase of up to 3°C in average world temperatures might boost crop yields in temperate regions such as Europe, but that it would lower them in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
Unless global warming is kept under check, increasingly frequent droughts in North Africa, for example, will oblige governments in the area to import more food. But can they afford to?
A recent dry spell in Morocco has already reduced the 2007 grain crop to about 2.0 million tons against last year’s 9.3 million yield, forcing the government to triple soft wheat imports to an estimated 3.0 million tons.
In North Africa, agriculture is dominated by small, non-irrigated farms which struggle to feed the ever growing population of the region. In recent years, the increased frequency of droughts has exacerbated the situation.
In Morocco alone, officials estimate that rainfall has dropped by 30 percent in recent years and that fertile acreage is shrinking.
Speaking at a climate conference in Casablanca, the IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri warned that, ‘Grain stocks globally are at a precarious low and if you look at the predicament of regions like this one you really don’t have the kind of reserves to draw on if you want to import large quantities They will have to pay heavily for this and this could disturb the economies of the region.’
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1988 in recognition of the problem of potential global climate change.
The IPCC is open to all members of the UN and WMO and its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change