War in Ukraine to increase global emissions and food prices

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to drive up global carbon emissions and food prices, according to new research led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Scientists used economic simulation models to predict short-term and long-term effects of the war on climate change, crop prices and food shortages.

They discovered that the war is likely to reduce crop production and exports from Ukraine and Russia, which will increase global food prices and food insecurity.

This could lead to corn and wheat prices rising by 4.6% and 7.2% respectively, as well as increased prices of barley, rice, soybeans, sunflower and wheat.

brown wheat field under blue sky during daytime

But moves by other countries to increase their own food production has cushioned the blow slightly, so prices won’t be as badly impacted as first thought.

‘There was a lot of worry about food insecurity globally when the war first started in Ukraine,’ Dumortier said. ‘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, Dumortier says these steps to increase production could negatively impact the climate, as countries may choose to clear land and vegetation to plant more crops.

The study highlighted Brazil as an example, which is increasing its crop production to cope with less corn exports coming from Ukraine.

This change in land use across the globe could have a significant environmental impact, leading to higher amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted by countries and higher levels of deforestation.

‘The Russia-Ukraine grain agreement over the summer was a positive development, but the situation in Ukraine is uncertain,’ Dumortier said. ‘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.’

Photo by David Maunsell


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