'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.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Professor Nick Hanley on 01786 466410; 01786 880256 (out of hours) or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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