International dimensions

Climate change will impact populations, economies and livelihoods around the world. An increase in extreme weather impacts can be expected to cause widespread loss of life and severe humanitarian crises. Increasing pressure will be placed on scarce natural resources, patterns of agricultural production will change and be disrupted, and when combined with other factors this could cause individual states to fail.

Impacts will be imported to the UK through the price and safety of food and other commodities, changes in the patterns of trade, disruption to global supply chains, and risks to overseas investments:

  • Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of weather extremes, disproportionately affecting low income populations. The UK is likely to be called upon to provide more resources for humanitarian assistance, and efforts to build state stability and long-term resilience could be undermined.
  • Extreme weather events can also cause production shocks and supply chain disturbance, with impacts on the world food market, to which UK prices are particularly sensitive.
  • UK business is also affected by these shocks. For example, the 2012 US drought contributed to increasing the price of soya which, in turn, led to some UK pig farmers being forced out of business.
  • Climate change will cause shifts in the global production of food. This could positively or negatively affect the price, availability and nutritional value of food in the UK. Research is needed to build a more complete understanding of these risks in order to inform policy.
  • When combined with other factors, weather-related events can cause people to migrate, mostly within or to neighbouring countries but it can also lead to movement further afield.
  • Geopolitical risks impact the UK by increasing demand for humanitarian assistance and affecting UK economic interests abroad.


Lead contributors: Andy Challinor (University of Leeds) and W. Neil Adger (University of Exeter)

Contributing authors: Matthew Baylis (University of Liverpool), Tim Benton (UK Global Food Security programme and University of Leeds), Declan Conway (London School of Economics and Political Science), Duncan Depledge (Royal United Services Institute), Andrew Geddes (University of Sheffield), Steve McCorriston (University of Exeter), Lindsay Stringer (University of Leeds)

Additional contributors: Laura Wellesley (Chatham House: the Royal Institute of International Affairs)

ASC contributor: Manuela Di Mauro

This chapter at a glance