The highest authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has released AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023, a summary of five years of reports which sounds the alarm once more about the enormous impact that global food systems have on climate change.

Over 30 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions originate from the world’s agri-food systems, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The new IPCC report emphasizes that in order to prevent the worst of the climate crisis, the world’s food and agricultural systems require significant transformation.

The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather and climate events has exposed millions to food and water insecurity, is slowing agricultural productivity, and is costing billions of dollars in ecosystem damages annually, according to the report. The worst impacts are experienced by small-scale farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, and other rural people in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Small Islands, and the Arctic.

“Small-scale farmers in the Global South are being hit first and worst by climate change—though they did not cause this crisis. The world’s poorest countries are also drowning in debt, with little ability to invest in building resilience to climate change. These countries urgently need support, climate finance and wholesale debt relief to build resilient, diversified food systems,” says Million Belay, a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and General Coordinator for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa in a statement.

The IPCC repeatedly points out that the cost of prevention is significantly lower than the cost of adaptation and disaster management.

“It’s an economic no-brainer,” says Bronson Griscom, Vice President of Natural Climate Solutions for Conservation International. “The barrier is actually financing everything upfront, to avoid a larger cost tomorrow. But there’s no longer much of any kind of rational argument against it.”

Read the full article about the food system by Ian Smith at Food Tank.