Government representatives and scientists on Tuesday opened a five-day meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to finalise a report assessing the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems, options for adaptation, and the interactions among climate changes, other stresses on societies, and opportunities for the future.

The meeting, the culmination of four years’ work by hundreds of experts who have volunteered their time and expertise to produce a comprehensive assessment, will approve the Summary for Policymakers of the second part of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report.

Dr Arthur Petersen told VoR: “The impacts on wheat production, or other food products - especially in the tropics - if you look into the end of this century, if you will not be able to mitigate climate change – that is, reduce emissions – then it will be very hard to adapt by introducing new varieties of wheat, for instance, because it will just become too hot.

“But if we are able to mitigate our emissions, then it may well be less of a challenge to adapt to climate change. So we have to adapt to climate change. That’s already admitted. If we don’t mitigate the emissions, there will be some issues – especially in the tropics and food security – which we won’t be able to solve before the end of the century.

“Even if we are able to adapt human systems to climate change – up to two degrees or even higher - for ocean systems, it’s just not possible to make this adaptation. So, coral reefs are one of those ecosystems that are seriously at risk."

“What we can do with adaptation is at the forefront of the report and I do think that one of the main messages is that a lot of the issues may be manageable, if we do it in the right way. So we get to the issues of governance. Are the countries that are particularly hit by climate change able to [handle this] with all the other issues and stresses that they have to deal with.”

He said he rejected allegations that the report was too alarmist.

He said: “Absolutely. Just compare this report to the previous one. It’s a very simple comparison.”

The Summary for Policymakers is due to be released on March 31.

Heatwaves spell danger for global food supplies - research