Public Release: 

Global warming to boost Scots farmers

Economic & Social Research Council

Climate change could be good news for Scottish farmers, according to ESRC funded research at the University of Stirling. Rising temperatures and increased CO2 levels could mean increased yields and a boost to local economies, according to Professor Nick Hanley, who led the project. The research findings are based on a series of interlinked models, which analysed the effects of projected changes in Scotland's weather on land use, regional economies and biodiversity. The possible effects of reform to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were also taken into account.

'We were quite surprised to find that global warming is not necessarily a bad thing,' says Nick Hanley. 'Rising temperatures will permit farmers to grow more productive, faster developing crops and increase the intensity of livestock farming. At the same time, the extra C02 in the atmosphere will reduce the need for artificial fertilizers and this will offset any negative economic effects of climate change.'

Despite the predicted benefits of climate change, the prosperity of Scottish farmers will depend more on the extent to which the CAP is reformed, Nick Hanley warns. 'Yields may go up, but prices will depend on changes in the marketplace rather than the weather.'

The research also found significant regional variations in the effects of climate change. The knock-on effects of increased farm income would be felt most strongly in the lowland south-west region of Scotland, and least in the hill farming areas of the North West. The only area which might experience poorer yields was the low-lying, low rainfall coastal south east, where irrigation might be needed in the long term, the report says.

The study found little evidence of changes to biodiversity as a result of shifting patterns of land use and management. 'The indirect effects of climate change seem to be small, but there will also be direct effects which could not be predicted from our data,' says Nick Hanley.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Professor Nick Hanley on 01786 466410; 01786 880256 (out of hours) or Email: n.d.hanley@stir.ac.uk

Or Lance Cole, Lesley Lilley or Becky Gammon at ESRC, on 01793 413032/413119/413122

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The research project 'Environmental and distributional impacts of climate change in Scotland' was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Professor Hanley is at the Economics Department, University of Stirling, STIRLING FK9 4LA

2. The study was based on a series of inter-linked models that related changes in land use and management to climate change scenarios in 2020, 2050 and 2080

3. The ESRC is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high-quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC invests more than £93million every year in social science and at any time is supporting some 2,000 researchers in academic institutions and research policy institutes. It also funds postgraduate training within the social sciences to nurture the researchers of tomorrow. More at http://www.esrc.ac.uk

4. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research (formerly accessible via the Regard website) and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities. More at http://www.esrcsocietytoday.ac.uk

5. The ESRC confirms the quality of its funded research by evaluating research projects through a process of peer review. Sometimes the ESRC publishes research before this process is finished so that new findings can immediately inform business, Government, media and other organisations. This research is waiting for final comments from academic peers.

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