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When climate change adaptation can make things worse

Geoff Riley

4th April 2018

Peruvian farmers experiencing unusually high temperatures during the growing season are adapting their behaviour in ways that will intensify the costs of climate change and exacerbate the long-term damage to their wellbeing

That is the central finding of research by Francisco Oteiza, Juan Pablo Rud and Fernando Aragón, presented at the Royal Economic Society's annual conference at the University of Sussex in Brighton in March 2018.

Their study finds that the main response of these households to climate change is to increase the amount of land and domestic labour they use, including child labour. They also sell livestock and reduce the number of different crops they grow.

Increasing their reliance on child labour will interfere with their children’s education. And reliance on fewer crops and livestock will make famers’ incomes less diversified and expose them to large future losses.

These findings suggest the need for government intervention, possibly including crop insurance, to ensure future wellbeing and food security in rural areas. The same will apply in other parts of the developing world, where small producers face growing challenges of climate change and adaptation.

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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