Access to food in a changing climate

04 March 2011

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A new report by the Oxford Institute of Ageing examines the potential impact of future climate change on food security in the UK.

The study was done in collaboration with the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), a former member of the Oxford Martin School, and was funded through DEFRA’s Adapting to Climate Change Strategic Evidence Fund.

The report focuses on three key vulnerable groups: the over 85s, the income deprived, and the disabled and health deprived; and asked the question: what is the likelihood of changes in vulnerable groups’ access to food in a changing climate?

Changes in climate at the global level over the coming century include very likely increases in frequency of heat waves and heavy precipitation events with a reduction in cold episodes. Tropical cyclones will increase in intensity and precipitation generally is very likely to increase at higher latitudes coupled with likely decreases in precipitation across subtropical regions. The chance of drought will increase in mid-continental areas, and sea level rise is expected. All of these changes will have implications for food production, infrastructure, trade and consumption. This commitment to certain levels of warming, and the potential for much greater warming in the future, means it is vital to consider localised impacts and think about adaptation to climate change as well as mitigation.

The Oxford Institute of Ageing investigates the implications of an ageing population for medical and social services, as well as looking at the wider impact of ageing populations on, the family, politics and consumer behaviour.

ECI is an interdisciplinary unit within Oxford University that undertakes research on environmental issues, teaches an MSc in Environmental Change and Management, and fosters university-wide networks and outreach on the environment.

Their collaboration is one example of the kinds of unique interdisciplinary and cross-cutting research initiatives fostered through the Oxford Martin School’s network of academics.

Food security and climate change are deeply interconnected and this issue is arguably one of the greatest facing the humanity today.