Emissions red flag as Ukraine war crop disruption bites

New research published this week has confirmed carbon pollution and produce prices are rising since Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European country, with food insecurity unchanged. 

A new paper featured in the journal Nature Food has painted a grim picture of global aftershocks being felt since the start of Vladimir Putin’s ‘special operation’. 

green grass field under white sky during daytime

The war in Ukraine has seen food prices increase since Russia’s invasion began in February, with corn and wheat respectively rising in cost by 4.6% and 7.2%. Stockpiles and supply chains have also been negatively impacted, although not by as much as was initially feared. 

‘There was a lot of worry about food insecurity globally when the war first started in Ukraine,’ said Jerome Dumortier, Associate Professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPU. ‘Our research shows while this will continue to impact the global supply chain, the effects on food shortages won’t be as bad as we initially thought. Much of that is because other countries have started to produce those crops and exports to make up for what Ukraine has not been sending out.’

However, efforts to ease food insecurity have largely focused on other countries increasing output, in turn raising environmental red flags, with analysts pointing to negative climate effects associated with filling production gaps. Brazil, for example, has taken steps to up its corn output, but this is likely to be achieved by clearing more land for crops. This change in land use is likely to be repeated in many other regions of the globe, a situation that could have a significant climate impact. 

‘The Russia-Ukraine grain agreement over the summer was a positive development, but the situation in Ukraine is uncertain,’ Dumortier continued. ‘We suggest governments consider policies that help vulnerable populations, like domestic food subsidies and the reduction or elimination of trade restrictions. The effect of future climate change could also be mitigated by unrestricted trade, which could allow a shift of comparative advantage across countries.’

Earlier this yearAir Quality News asked if the war in Ukraine would lead to a faster transition to renewable energy due to the resulting oil and gas crisis. 

Image: Bannon Morrissy




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