Statement by the Global Plant Council on the threat of climate change to future food security


The Global Plant Council (GPC) acknowledges that the 6th Assessment Report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides irrefutable scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate is changing due to human-related activities. We agree with the IPCC that global warming and climate change are real and measurable phenomena primarily driven by increases in the concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The GPC is very concerned that current climate models forecast further temperature rises that will disrupt rainfall patterns and increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. In addition, the world population is expected to reach an estimated 9.7 billion people by 2050. If left unaddressed, these simultaneous phenomena will further threaten biodiversity and pose unprecedented challenges to global food security. The problem is confounded by the substantial contribution of farming systems and food distribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

Societal Challenges

Our societies face choices about how to respond to the consequences of climate change on agriculture and biodiversity. Available strategies are many and carry different levels of environmental and societal risks.  We need stricter policies and action plans that can be developed, widely implemented and accounted for. Climate change and its immediate effects are claimed -especially by vested interest groups- to be hard to predict, which has thwarted the necessary political action. However, uncertainty in climate science is not greater than in other areas where policy decisions are routinely taken to minimize risk. Moreover, the predictions are very similar to the original predictions presented in the very first IPCC report 30 years ago. 

We need tools to develop more efficient agricultural and economic systems that will increase food supply without further damage to the natural environment. Indeed, there is a need to revert land currently used for farming to nature to help rebalance the world’s biomes. Plant scientists are well placed to make a major contribution to this complex task.

Addressing Policy-Makers

We ask policymakers to confer with plant scientists to tackle climate change and develop agricultural and ecological policies using the best available scientific evidence. Plant scientists are ready to help if given the chance. We await your call. 


Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)

6th Assessment IPCC Report2021

The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years

6th Assessment IPCC Report2021

It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere have occurred

6th Assessment IPCC Report2021

Practical Examples

This is a sample of research articles detailing technological applications of plant science to tackle climate change.

  1. Horton P et al. lists a series of technological options, examples of less intensive regenerative agriculture, afforestation and bioenergy crops in combination with carbon capture and storage technologies.  Nature Plants. 2021.
  1. In some of our most useful crops (such as rice and wheat), photosynthesis produces toxic by-products that reduce plant efficiency and yield. In this paper researchers constructed a metabolic pathway in transgenic model plants that is more efficient making these plants ∼40% more productive than their controls. Science. 2019.
  1. ​​Crop plants protect themselves from excess sunlight by dissipating some light energy as heat, but plants fail to adapt to fluctuating light conditions rapidly, resulting in decreased photosynthetic efficiency. This paper presents the results of overexpressing one of the proteins responsible for light dissipation in model  plants, showing a 15% increase in plant biomass production in natural field conditions. Science. 2016.
  1. Providing a growing global population with healthy diets from sustainable food systems is an immediate challenge.  Because much of the world’s population is inadequately nourished and many environmental systems and processes are pushed beyond safe boundaries by food production, a global transformation of the food system is urgently needed. The Lancet. 2019.
  1. The Plant Science Decadal Vision recognizes the vital intersection of human and scientific elements and demands an integrated implementation of strategies for research, people, and technology. The report is intended to help inspire and guide over the next 10 years, until 2030.  Plant Direct. 2020.
  1. This review describes multi-pronged research and innovation opportunities in wheat. Heat and drought resilience can be boosted through novel breeding technologies using new tools in genetics and remote sensing. Such technologies can also be applied to identify climate resilience traits from wheat genetic resources.  Journal of Experimental Botany. 2021.











































About The Global Plant Council

The Global Plant Council is a coalition of 27 national, regional, and international organizations representing plant, crop, agricultural, and environmental sciences across the globe. GPC aims to promote plant science across borders & disciplines, supporting those involved in research, education, and training, and to increase awareness of plant research in science and society. Find out more.