October 10, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 312 — Global impacts of the war in Ukraine

The disruption of crop production after the Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to increase carbon emissions and food prices across the globe, without easing food insecurity.

A new research study by Jerome Dumortier, an associate professor in Indiana University's O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and his collaborators uses economic simulation models to predict the short- and long-term effects of the war on climate change, crop prices and food shortages.

The study found that the war's impact on crop production and exports in Ukraine and Russia will continue to increase the world's food prices and food insecurity, but not as much as initially feared -- largely because other countries have stepped up their production.

Researchers estimate we may see corn and wheat prices increase by up to 4.6% and 7.2%, respectively. They also considered the prices of crops like barley, rice, soybeans, sunflower and wheat, which are predicted to increase. They predict that nations already facing significant food insecurity will be impacted.

Dumortier says although there was a lot of worry about food insecurity globally when the war first started in Ukraine, the research shows that while this will continue to impact the global supply chain, the effects on food shortages won't be as bad as initially thought. He says much of that is because other countries have started to produce those crops and exports to make up for what Ukraine has not been sending out.

However, Dumortier says filling that production gap will take a toll on the global climate.

Other countries, such as Brazil, might clear land and vegetation to plant more crops to make up for slowed production and exports from the war. The study found that Brazil is increasing its corn production to compensate for Ukraine's drop in corn exports. Researchers found that the change in land use across the globe will have a significant environmental impact, as other countries increase carbon emissions from land-use change and contribute more to deforestation.

Dumortier says the researchers suggest governments consider policies that help vulnerable populations, such as domestic food subsidies and the reduction or elimination of trade restrictions. He says future effects of climate change could also be mitigated by unrestricted trade, which could allow a shift of comparative advantage across countries.