Agriculture & Environment: present & near-future crucial storylines

May 2020

Agriculture & Environment: present & near-future crucial storylines


A) European agriculture new face in the coming years

  • In 2018 Italy lost about 57% of its olive production while Spain followed in 2019, when drought compromised 44% of its production
  • In Sicily, tropical fruit crops, eg. mangoes, papayas or lychees have become part of landscape
  • At least 22 mio EU farmers & workers in agriculture are directly exposed to climate extremes, while 44 mio food-related jobs may also feel their impacts
  • In Spain, 64.7% of farmers have already changed how they managed crops, especially the use of water
  • Farmland value is projected to decrease by more than 80% by 2100 in some regions in southern Europe.
  • Food security is a global concern while the effect of climate on agriculture cannot be isolated to a single country or region


B) Strong impact of climate change on future crops

  • 2019 was the 5th in a series of exceptionally warm years and the 2nd warmest year globally ever recorded
  • In 2010, the summer heatwave in Russia compromised 30 % of its grain harvest
  • Last decade, weather and climate extreme events linked to climate change, have cost Italy’s agriculture and rural infrastructure about 14 billion €
  • If global temperatures increase by 2°C, rising water deficits in Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain will push up demand for irrigation water between 4 and 18 % by 2100; Scandinavia and Turkey will face harsher droughts
  • In the north, although the growing season may increase, new pests and diseases can jeopardize the potential for higher crop yields


C) The future of waste

  • Humans waste roughly 30% of their food, at a cost of 1 trillion USD a year, while 10% of people go hungry around the world
  • Plastic waste in the sea could outweigh fish by 2050 if current practices continue. Such meaning the oceans will contain at least 937 million tons of plastic vs 895 million tons of fish by 2050
  • As only 14% of world’s plastics be recycled, there is huge business space of approx. 80 billion USD per year from avoiding the production of so many new plastics from scratch


Source (A,B): EEA – (C): UBS