This report addresses the potential scale and geography of climate change in order to identify which populations and areas will be most affected and to help policy makers facilitate adaptation. The research uses computer modelling based on a pessimistic, optimistic and baseline middle ground projection of income and population growth, each combined with four possible climate change scenarios of varying severity and a fifth perfect mitigation scenario, i.e. a continuation of today's climate. Although breaking new ground on the level of detail involved, the report warns that when using climate models specific magnitudes should be treated with caution. Underlying data in the areas biophysics and socio-economics is currently poor, though there are numerous ongoing efforts to improve this.
Four main sets of messages are drawn from the analysis.
Improvements in human wellbeing, including food security and resilience to climate change, are dependent on broad-based economic development: higher incomes allow for experimentation and innovation with new technologies and management systems.
Climate change offsets some of the benefits of income growth; for example, rising world food prices could increase the number of malnourished children in developing countries between 8.5 to 10.3 per cent by 2050.
International trade is central to compensating for the various effects of climate change: substantial increases in international trade flows can partially offset local climate change productivity effects such as drought.
Impacts of climate change can be mitigated by properly targeted agricultural productivity investments: potential productivity enhancements include irrigation efficiency, improvements in maize, wheat and cassava, and an overall increase of crop productivity in developing countries by 40 per cent.