How Does Climate Change Affect the Mexican Economy?By Alessa Flores | Fri, 05/15/2020 - 14:08
Traditionally, climate change is conceived as a phenomenon that affects the environment. However, studies on the subject have revealed that the impacts of climate change affect the economy, health, people and more. In its sustainable development objectives, the United Nations emphasizes the importance of taking urgent action to combat climate change and its effects. Especially as weather patterns are changing more and more, sea levels are rising, weather events are becoming more extreme and greenhouse gas emissions are now at the highest level in history, according to the UN.
However, speaking of sea levels and CO2 levels seems very far from the local reality of people. That is why, today, there is talk about how climate change can impact the economy and what is the cost for people, societies and countries of polluting practices.
The impact of climate change on agriculture is one of the most studied impacts worldwide by different organizations. It is estimated that for each degree that temperature increases, the production of cereals such as corn, wheat and others is reduced by approximately 5 percent, according to UN climate change experts. In addition, it was recorded that between 1880 and 2012, the global average temperature increased 0.85°C.
Worldwide, this is a very alarming fact, since about 40 percent of the world's entire habitable land is dominated by cropland agriculture. If grasslands used for livestock and grazing are included, agriculture dominates 80-90 percent of the living area, according to UN data. In the particular case of Mexico, of its 198 million ha, 145 million ha are dedicated to agriculture. Of these 145 million, 30 million ha are farmland and 115 million ha are pasture land, according to FAO.
Corn is one of the crops that has been most affected by climate change, in addition to beans, squash, potatoes, rice and wheat, on which millions of Mexicans depend for their basic food supply. Temperature is important for a series of physiological processes for crops: pollination, grain filling and basic photosynthesis. For example, states recognized for their agricultural activities such as Sonora and Sinaloa have been strongly affected by high temperatures for several days or by extreme peaks for a few hours, which has led to a negative impact on crop yield, according to a Greenpeace report.
It is estimated that up to 10 million tons of corn can be lost in developing countries due to climate change and temperature increases, which result in reduced water use efficiency and rain patterns, according to Greenpeace. In addition to temperature changes, natural disasters have also affected crops. For example, the 1997-1998 hurricane El Niño caused damages of around MX$1.5 billion (US$62.3 million) to the agricultural sector and the late rains in 2005 were responsible for a 13 percent drop in production, according to data from INE and the National Institute for Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP).
In addition to these concerns, the World Bank and Greenpeace have predicted that in the following years and especially after 2025, there will be an increase in shortages of water for crop production, not only due to droughts but also due to the overexploitation of underground aquifers, generating serious threats to irrigation crops. Because of this, it has been proposed by international organizations to direct international concerns to specific cases in countries and communities, as well as to use international actions to generate local impact aimed at sustainable development.