More than 44% of the European Union’s future agricultural imports, such as coffee, cocoa and soybean, could become highly vulnerable to drought by 2050 as a result of climate change, suggests a paper in Nature Communications. The findings highlight the increasing vulnerabilities of agricultural imports to climate change.

The vulnerability of the agricultural sector to climate change is of increasing concern. Adapting to changing climates will require an understanding of which crops are most vulnerable to issues such as drought, and how vulnerabilities will change in the future compared to current climatic conditions.

FutureWater, Ertug Ercin and colleagues quantified and mapped cross-border climate vulnerabilities of the EU’s agricultural and food economy in relation to drought severity in non-EU countries in the years 2030, 2050 and 2085, under a high (RCP 6.0) and low (RCP 2.6) emissions scenario. The authors suggest that under a high emissions scenario, more than 44% of the EU’s imports will be highly vulnerable to drought in 2050. They indicate that drought severity in production locations of agricultural imports in 2050 will increase by 35% compared to current levels. The authors identified coffee, cocoa, sugar cane, oil palm and soybean as the most climate vulnerable EU crop imports, with many major crop imports forecast to come from high-drought risk locations, such as Brazil, Indonesia and India, in the future.

The findings highlight the interconnected nature of global imports and exports in the agricultural sector, and point to the importance of climate adaptation in international trade. Read more in the just published scientific paper: