Agriculture will account for 70 per cent of global carbon emissions by 2050 compared with 25 per cent now, if global food production maintains a "business as usual" strategy, Jürgen Voegele of the World Bank has warned.
Dr Voegele, who is director of the bank’s agricultural global practice, described the potential increase in emissions as “a devastating prospect”.
Climate change was one of the biggest challenges facing food production, he told the Agricultural Science Association’s conference in Naas. Yet the global approach to climate change was fragmented.
“We need a future model of food security that enables production systems to be carbon-neutral. Grassland-based systems, such as those in Ireland, have a much better opportunity to reduce emissions and even become carbon positive,” he said.
Several speakers said higher food prices were inevitable due to the increasing world population and growth in the middle class population.
Dr Voegele said food demand was likely to be 70 per cent higher globally in 2050 than it was today but volatility and shocks to the system would discourage farmers from investing.