Remove Tariffs and Subsidies on Agriculture to Help the Poor Adapt to Climate Change

Remove tariffs and subsidies on agriculture to help the poor adapt to
climate change, say civil society groups

 This year, the UN’s "World Food Day" focuses on the pressing need for the world to adapt to climate change. But even before "climate change" became a political concern, the poor have been unable to deal with "climate" such as drought, storms and flooding – as a result of counterproductive government policies.

Governments around the world are the main barrier to plentiful food and effective adaptation to the climate. Government programmes in the name of climate change have already had terrible results – more than US$ 11 billion worth of subsidies were used to turn food crops into biofuels last year. This contributed substantially to the rise in food prices that helped push 75 million more people below the hunger threshold.

While there may be a case for government to provide flood defences and other collective goods, most adaptation will occur at a much more local scale and as such is best left to individuals.

In a recent report, World-renowned agricultural economists Professors Douglas Southgate and Brent Songhen point out that farmers will likely adapt to global warming by switching crops, and adopting new technologies and farming methods – just as they have done for centuries. 

With regard to the relationship between agriculture and climate change, the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change (with 49 member organisations in 37 countries) makes the following recommendations: 

*        Eliminate subsidies to agricultural production; such subsidies lead to overuse of inputs and increase the cost of future output by depleting soils.

*        Remove subsidies to water use (where water is owned by
government entities, this would entail transferring ownership to private parties); currently such subsidies lead to overuse of both water and land.  

*        Remove barriers to trade in agricultural inputs and outputs; such barriers raise the cost of food and prevent farmers from using the most cost effective technologies.


*"Weathering Global Warming in Agriculture and Forestry: It can be done with free markets" By Douglas Southgate and Brent Sohngen in the Civil Society Report on Climate Change,


This press release was issued by the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change,

The Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change seeks to educate the public about the science and economics of climate change in an impartial manner. It was established as a response to the many biased and alarmist claims about human-induced climate change, which are being used to justify calls for intervention and regulation.

The Coalition comprises 40 independent civil society organizations in 37 countries who share a commitment to improving public understanding about a range of public policy issues. All are non-profit organizations that are independent of political parties and government.

A list of members is available at