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407. Record High Greenhouse Gas Concentration and Temperature in Asia in 2020

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On October 25, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2020 and that trend has continued in 2021. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has reached 149% of pre-industrial levels, methane (CH4) 262%, and nitrous oxide (N2O) 123%, indicating that the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 had no effect on the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Then on October 26, WMO released the State of the Climate in Asia 2020, reporting that Asia has its warmest year on record in 2020. Temperatures in 2021 are 1.39°C (1.42 +/- 0.13°C) higher than the 1981-2010 average, with 38°C observed in the Russian Arctic. The summer monsoons in East and South Asia were unusually active and, along with frequent typhoons, caused many casualties associated with floods and landslides. These extreme weather events have claimed many lives, homes, and livelihoods in Asia, and caused extensive damage worth US$ 83 billion in Japan.

Improvements in the food and nutrition security situation in Asia have slowed, with an estimated 48.8 million people in Southeast Asia, 305 million people in South Asia, and 42.3 million people in West Asia undernourished in 2020. While the true impact of COVID-19 on food security is yet to be estimated, the number of malnourished people is estimated to have increased by 6% in Southeast and West Asia and 20% in South Asia compared to 2019, with climate-related disasters further exacerbating the problem.

A link to a visual version of the report is available here.

Improving the food and nutrition security situation in Asia will require innovations that are resilient to extreme weather risks and mitigate climate change. In particular, innovations that enable the reduction of agricultural carbon, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases while maintaining food productivity must be adapted to local conditions.

Japan's food, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries are facing policy challenges such as large-scale natural disasters, global warming, weakening of the production base and decline of local communities due to a decrease in the number of producers, and changes in production and consumption triggered by the pandemic. In order to ensure a stable supply of food in the future, it is necessary to promote the construction of a food system that is resistant to disasters and global warming. In response, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has formulated the Strategy MeaDRI, a strategy for a sustainable food system which aims to achieve both improved productivity and sustainability of the food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries through innovation.

We will discuss the role of innovation and platforms in sustainable food system transformation in the Asian monsoon region at the JIRCAS International Symposium 2021, which will be available online on November 17.

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki (Director, Information Program)