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Food prices could increase further due to climate change’s effect on inflation around the world: Study

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(NEW YORK) — The strain that rising global temperatures could have on on the agriculture industry and inflation around the world will likely cause food prices to increase even more, according to new research.


Changes in average monthly temperatures have the strongest and most consistent correlation to productivity and inflation figures, according to a paper published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment on Thursday.

Researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany looked at historical food prices in different categories of food goods across countries around the world to explore how fluctuations in different climatic conditions have historically impacted food inflation as well as the implications of future climate change, Max Kotz, lead author of the study, told ABC News.

The higher food prices predicted in the future are tied to extreme weather events that could disrupt a sensitive global economy. “Shocks” to agricultural productivity is the main channel that underlies the impact of climate change to food inflation, Kotz said.

Increases during seasonably hotter months and regions cause larger inflationary impacts, according to the paper.

“There are likely going to be substantial impacts of future climate change on food prices across the world,” Kotz said.

High and low-income countries will both experience climate-driven inflation, however countries in the global south, especially Africa and South America, will be more affected, according to the study.

Since much of the global south experiences some of the hottest temperatures, the impacts of climate change on food supplies in those regions will be much larger, Kotz said.

“They’re closer to higher temperatures at which further temperatures increases start to be damaging, especially for most crops,” he said.

In the higher latitudes, increases in average temperatures cause upward inflationary pressures when occurring during the typical hottest months of the year. However, the opposite occurs when there is an increase in average monthly temperature during the typical colder months for the region.

In the lower latitudes, increases in average monthly temperatures cause upwards inflationary pressures all year round.

The report shows that the impacts on the price level from a 1 degree Celsius increase in the average monthly temperature persist for up to a year later following the initial shock.

Increased variability also causes significant upward pressure on inflation, the researchers said.

Excess wet conditions can also trigger an increase in inflation, which can then persist over 12 months, according to the paper.

But the findings suggest that the impacts are less significant when looking at excess dry conditions. There was some impact but more short-term, the researchers said.

In a case study, the researchers took a look at the 2022 extreme summer heat event in Europe and found that food inflation increased by 0.43-0.93% for the continent. By 2035, this would be amplified by 30-50%, based on current warming projections, according to the paper.

While reducing emissions will help to stave off the severity of extreme weather events, the impacts on food prices will likely start to be “quite considerable” in the near future, Kotz said.

“Because of human-[caused] emissions, certain types of weather extremes are going to be intensifying,” he said. “More and more of temperatures are generally going to be increasing, and we know that there are negative implications of those kinds of changes on things like agricultural productivity.”

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