As several countries plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, such efforts to rein in global temperatures may lead to more people going hungry, a new study suggests.
"That risk doesn't negate the need for mitigation but highlights the importance of comprehensive policies," said lead researcher Tomoko Hasegawa from the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan.
Previous studies have shown that climate change reduces how much food farms can produce, which could lead to more people suffering from hunger. Curbing the greenhouse gas emissions that lead to climate change can help maintain the yields of existing crops.
But there might be indirect ways in which cutting emissions could actually put more people at risk of going hungry, said the study published in ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology
"For example, some grasses and other vegetation used for biofuels require agricultural land that might otherwise be used for food production. So, increased biofuel consumption could negatively affect the food supply," Hasegawa noted.
Also, the high cost of low-emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be borne by consumers, who will then have less money to spend on food.
The researchers used multiple models to determine the effects of strict emissions cuts and found that many more people would be at risk of hunger than if those cuts weren't in place. The team concluded that governments will have to take measures, such as increasing food aid, as they address climate change.