Studies have shown that BIPOC in regions that produce food are among the most impacted by the numerous effects of climate change

According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED), climate change-induced increases in temperature, rainfall variation and the frequency of extreme weather events are putting intense pressure on global agricultural and food systems. Similarly, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that climate change can negatively affect crop yields, food production and availability.

A significant portion of certain countries’ economies (like one-third of the GDP for Ethiopia and one-fifth of Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic output) rely heavily on agriculture. With this in mind, let’s look specifically at some of the ways climate change can impact BIPOC, particularly in regions that produce food.

Higher CO2 levels can impact crop yields

When temperatures exceed a crop's ideal temperature, yields will decline. Elevated CO2 has been associated with reduced protein and nitrogen content in plants like soybeans, resulting in a loss of quality. In turn, the reduction in grain and forage quality can have adverse effects on the ability of to support grazing livestock.

A 2020 climate report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that in Africa, weather patterns are becoming less favourable, increasing the volatility of crop yields. Furthermore, Africa is especially vulnerable because many of its crops are at the "edge of the physical thresholds beyond which yields decline."IndonesiaPhoto by Rifky Nur Setyadi on Unsplash

It can impact food availability and access

In India, nearly 55 percent of the population depends directly on climate-sensitive sectors like fisheries and forests. The projected impacts of climate change in the coming years is likely to have vast implications on food production, water supply and biodiversity.

For example, a large part of India’s agriculture depends on the arrival of monsoon season. If rainfall patterns change too drastically, it can have devastating affects on food production and in turn, the livelihood of citizens.

Heat waves can impact food production and availability

Those of us along the West Coast of Canada and the U.S. experienced firsthand an unprecedented heat wave this summer, with temperatures in parts of Canada reaching as high as 49.6 °C.

With several low-lying coastal cities across the world—and especially in parts of Asia—facing higher risk of natural disasters like floods and typhoons (plus a drastic rise in humidity and extreme drought), these societies and economies are increasingly vulnerable to climate risk.

Studies found that for food systems in many part of Asia, the risk of a grain yield decline greater than 5 percent each year could be 1.4 times higher by 2050 relative to today, compared to 1.9 times globally.Indian farmerPhoto by Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash

What’s next?

Experts have called the "combination of advancing climate change and an already vulnerable industrial system" a perfect storm that threatens farmers’ livelihoods and food supply.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that an increase in the average global temperature of just 2 to 4°C above pre-industrial levels could reduce crop yields by 15 to 35 percent in Africa and western Asia, and by 25 to 35 percent in the Middle East.

Countries already struggling with food security are likely to struggle even harder in the future if measures to combat climate change aren’t put in place by the global community.

Not only are minority groups among the most badly hit by climate change, they unfortunately receive less support to deal with its effects and must fight harder to influence decision-making to mitigate its impact.

As Global Citizen notes: “Climate change isn’t this remote thing that scientists will simply work out. It’s a problem of global scale—and we all need to pay attention to the human costs that climate change creates.”