EINNEWS, November 18—On both sides of the Atlantic there’s a flurry of activity today based on expectations that prices for agricultural commodities will soar, much of it driven by the impact of climate change.
In Washington, D.C., prominent business leaders met with members of Congress to discuss the business risks if the U.S. does nothing to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. Development agencies pledged $200 million to aid the worldwide agricultural sector from the adverse impact of global warming. And in a separate action, a key financial figure forecast an “explosive” future of agricultural commodities demand.
World leaders are scheduled to meet in Cancun, Mexico November 29 to resume talks on a united effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Efforts earlier this year in Copenhagen fizzled when the U.S., China, India, Brazil and other large scale sources of greenhouse gases failed to reach common ground.
The Cancun conference will be held under possibly less favorable circumstances since the U.S. House of Representatives will shortly be controlled by a Republican majority that is not enthusiastic about making any moves toward climate control.
In fact, the incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, said in an interview last year, “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, that it is harmful to our environment, is almost comical.”
Denial by the Republicans that climate change is occurring, or if it is that any government policy changes can make a difference, is at odds with views of business and agricultural leaders, many of whom are pressing hard for action at Cancun.
At the Washington, D.C. meeting Wednesday, Starbucks Vice President Ben Packard said, “We absolutely view this as a critical risk of our business.” Taylor Davis, the senior counsel for John Deere Worldwide, said his company expects to sell agricultural equipment that would help farmers produce more food using less land and water, and adapt to climate changes.
A group of 259 international investors issued a statement this week calling on the U.S. and other developed countries to make good on a promise of $30 billion for the fund from 2010 to 2012 at the Cancun talks.
John Prestbo of Dow Jones Indexes told Bloomberg News yesterday that agricultural commodities face an “explosive” future as increased demand and the effects of global warming exacerbate supply disruptions.
“With the global increase in population and there not being extensive new farmland available to plant, soft commodities are going to become more vulnerable to the kinds of weather and other setbacks,” Prestbo was quoted as saying. “If you combine that with some scientists’ predictions that global warming is going to make storms either more frequent or severe, and shift patterns of rainfall and drought, then you’ve got an explosive combination.”
Also on Wednesday, development agencies announced a $200 million, 10-year program to help the agriculture sector prepare for climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“The food security challenge facing us as humans is large,” said Gerald Nelson, a senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.
The effects of climate change are forecast to lower wheat, soybean, potato and sorghum production, particularly in undeveloped countries which can’t afford to import foods. India is already the impact of climate change with its rice and wheat crops.
The project announced Wednesday is targeted at vulnerable areas in Africa and India, and has a goal of reducing the number of malnourished poor in those areas by 25 percent, as well as curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
For more agriculture news, visit Agriculture Industry Today (http://agriculture.einnews.com), a agriculture media monitoring service from EIN News.