Panel Paper: Climate Change and Crop Yields in India: What The Past Tells Us About The Future

Thursday, November 7, 2013 : 9:45 AM
3016 Adams (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Aravind Moorthy, Mathematica Policy Research and Deepak Rajagopal, University of California, Los Angeles
The study of climate change impacts on Indian agriculture has gained recent attention, due to the size of India's agricultural sector, and reports suggesting that developing countries are more vulnerable to negative climate change effects. Studies in India have focused on predicting future trends using standard climate change scenarios from externally developed models. However, these studies are not generally able to provide accurate error estimates of their predictions, and are limited in their consideration of farmer adaptations that may offset climate change impacts. This study examines the impact of historic climate change trends over a 50-year period, and develops a model that accommodates a number of farmer adaptation possibilities. We find that temperature and precipitation trends have had no significant impact on major crop yields over our period of study, under any of the specifications we test. More broadly, our findings suggest that unaccounted errors could matter when predicting future outcomes, and that adaptation may play a role in mitigating adverse climate change effects.