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UCL ISR Seminar Series: Addressing the joint challenges of climate change and food security

17:30 - 19:00 22 May 2014

Location: Central House; Ground Level; 14 Upper Woburn Place, London. WC1H 0NN

(c)Neena Percy

Professor Pete Smith, Professor of Soils and Global Change, University of Aberdeen will be presenting at our upcoming seminar in May.

Abstract: Feeding 9–10 billion people by 2050 and preventing dangerous climate change are two of the greatest challenges facing humanity. Both challenges must be met while reducing the impact of land management on ecosystem services that deliver vital goods and services, and support human health and well-being. Few studies to date have considered the interactions between these challenges. The supply- and demand-side climate mitigation potential available in the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFLOU) sector and options for delivering food security are briefly reviewed. Some of the synergies and trade-offs afforded by mitigation practices are outlined, before an assessment of the mitigation potential possible in the AFOLU sector under possible future scenarios is presented, in which demand-side measures co-deliver to aid food security. I conclude that while supply-side mitigation measures, such as changes in land management, might either enhance or negatively impact food security, demand-side mitigation measures, such as reduced waste or demand for livestock products, should benefit both food security and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. Demand-side measures offer a greater potential (1.5–15.6 Gt CO2-eq. yr-1) in meeting both challenges than do supply-side measures (1.5–4.3 Gt CO2-eq. yr-1 at carbon prices between 20 and 100 US$ tCO2-eq. yr-1), but given the enormity of challenges, all options need to be considered. Supply-side measures should be implemented immediately, focusing on those that allow the production of more agricultural product per unit of input. For demand-side measures, given the difficulties in their implementation and lag in their effectiveness, policy should be introduced quickly, and should aim to co-deliver to other policy agendas, such as improving environmental quality or improving dietary health. These problems facing humanity in the 21st Century are extremely challenging, and policy that addresses multiple objectives is required now more than ever.

Biography:  Pete Smith is the Professor of Soils and Global Change at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK), Science Director of the Scottish Climate Change Centre of Expertise (ClimateXChange) and Director of Food Systems for the Scottish Food Security Alliance-Crops. He leads the University of Aberdeen multi-disciplinary theme on Environment & Food Security. Since 1996, he has served as Convening Lead Author, Lead Author and Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He was the Convening Lead Author of the Agricultural Mitigation chapter of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and for the Agriculture and Forestry Mitigation chapter of the IPCC Fifth Assessment. He has coordinated and participated in many national and international projects on soils, agriculture, food security, greenhouse gases, climate change, mitigation and impacts, and ecosystem modelling. He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, a Rothamsted Research Fellow, a Research Fellow of the Royal Society (London; 2008-2013), and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Unfortunately due to circumstances out of our control Professor Smith is unable to make the seminar this evening. We will be rescheduling the seminar for a future date.