The term 'climate change' usually refers to the recent and ongoing increase in global average temperature near the earth's surface. Although natural factors also affect climate change, since the early 1900s climate change has mostly been caused by human activities that release a large amount greenhouse gases - such as carbon dioxide and methane - into the atmosphere. The main activities that contribute to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions have been the burning of fossil fuels, land use, and agriculture. The MedAgri region, already one of the world's driest regions, will be among the hardest hit by the effects of climate change and is expected to experience greater warming trends than the global annual mean. Indications of a changing climate are already clearly evident in the region, with common issues including water scarcity, desertification, salinization and sea-level rise.
The agricultural sector is both highly exposed and vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Changing mean temperatures, increasing rainfall variability and extreme climate change events (such as heat waves, floods and droughts) will have a significant impact on agriculture, including crop growth and quality, livestock health and an increase in weed and pest proliferation, which poses a big threat to global food security. In the MedAgri region, projected temperature rises are likely to increase crop-water requirements, thereby directly decreasing crop water use efficiency and increasing irrigation demands of the agriculture sector. Additionally, temperature increases are expected to have an adverse effect on livestock and fish production.
At the same time that climate change is
affecting agriculture, agriculture is also affecting climate change, primarily
through the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) such as methane, carbon dioxide and
nitrous oxide. GHG emissions from agriculture contribute to
approximately 13% of global GHG emissions. As a major contributor to climate change, agriculture consequently has the potential to be an important part of the solution through reducing a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions. In the MedAgri region, GHG emissions mostly comes from agricultural soils, enteric fermentation, and manure management. The MedAgri region's contribution to worldwide GHG emissions is small, yet all 4 countries in the region continue to take practical steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including energy saving projects, projects to control energy use and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
For more information on the sector, please contact Bjorn Conrad at Bjorn.Conrad@fao.org