Climate Change Threatens China's Food Security, warns Greenpeace

Press release - 2008-10-15
China will lose its self sufficiency in food production as early as 2030 because of climate change, warns a new report by Greenpeace released today on the eve of World Food Day 2008. This disaster can only be averted if the government takes immediate action to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and adopt policies encouraging more climate-friendly ecological agriculture.

China's overall food production may plunge by up to 23% by 2050 from 2000 levels because of land loss, water shortages and temperature rise.

As a result of the combination of temperature rise, loss of arable land and water scarcity, China's overall food production will drop by up to 23 percent by 2050 from its 2000 level, says the report, "Climate Change and Food Security in China."

The report was authored by China's top climate experts and agronomists commissioned by Greenpeace.

At the press conference, the report's leading author and China's top scientist for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Professor Lin Erda from the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said: "Climate change is affecting agricultural production through changes in temperature, water availability, soil condition, extreme weather, crop diseases and pest outbreaks. Under a high greenhouse gas emission scenario, basic food supplies will become insufficient around 2030."

According to the World Bank, 33 countries are now in danger of political destabilisation and internal conflict driven by rising food prices.

"China is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Ecological

agriculture, which works with nature rather than against it, can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Greenpeace climate campaigner Li Yan said.

"Compared with today's destructive chemical and fossil energy intensive agriculture, ecological agriculture better adapts to and survives the effects of climate change," Professor Lin echoed.

The construction of biogas generators in China's rural areas can control methane emissions during the processing of organic fertilizer. Use of biogas, instead of coal, for cooking and heating in all of China's rural areas can cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 46 million tons annually, the report points out.

A parallel investigation by Greenpeace in China's Jiangsu and Guizhou provinces also provides examples of how China's farmers benefit from ecological agriculture, despite extreme weather events such as typhoons and snow storms.

"China is already paying heavily for climate change. In order to feed the world's largest population, continuously and sustainably, China needs to immediately cut its overall emissions and adopt new policies that encourage ecological agriculture" said Li Yan.

Download images here.

See executive summary here

Other contacts:

Tom Wang, Media Officer, Greenpeace, +86-13910902617, +86-10-65546931, ext 151

Li Yan, Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace, +86-13911251485, +86-10-65546931, ext 121

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