Invited review: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture, and food—A case of shifting cultivation and history

John R. Porter (Corresponding Author), Andrew J. Challinor, Christian Bugge Henriksen, S. Mark Howden, Pierre Martre, Pete Smith

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Since 1990 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has produced five Assessment Reports (ARs), in which agriculture as the production of food for humans via crops and livestock have featured in one form or another. A constructed data base of the ca. 2,100 cited experiments and simulations in the five ARs were analysed with respect to impacts on yields via crop type, region and whether or not adaptation was included. Quantitative data on impacts and adaptation in livestock farming have been extremely scarce in the ARs. The main conclusions from impact and adaptation are that crop yields will decline but that responses have large statistical variation. Mitigation assessments in the ARs have used both bottom-up and top down methods but need better to link emissions and their mitigation with food production and security. Relevant policy options have become broader in later ARs and included more of the social and non-production aspects of food security. Our overall conclusion is that agriculture and food security, which are two of the most central, critical and imminent issues in climate change, have been dealt with in an unfocussed and inconsistent manner between the IPCC five ARs. This is partly a result of agriculture spanning two IPCC working groups but also the very strong focus on projections from computer crop simulation modelling. For the future, we suggest a need to examine interactions between themes such as crop resource use efficiencies and to include all production and non-production aspects of food security in future roles for integrated assessment models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2529
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number8
Early online date13 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

J.R. Porter was supported by the Agropolis Fondation under the reference ID 1502-602 through the « Investissements d’avenir » programme (Labex Agro:ANR-10-LABX-0001-01), under the frame of I-SITE MUSE (ANR-16-IDEX-0006)»).

P. Martre was supported by the EU project H2020 SolACE (grant agreement no. 727247).


  • adaptation
  • climate change
  • food security
  • impact
  • IPPC
  • mitigation
  • policy
  • IPCC


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