All tapped out? Global warming could impact world beer supply

Barley grain used in the production of beer at the Asahi Kanagawa Brewery in Japan

Professor of climate change economics Dabo Guan at the the University of East Anglia said: "Increasingly research has begun to project the impacts of climate change on world food production, focusing on staple crops such as wheat, maize, soybean, and rice".

In more optimistic scenarios, where emissions are brought under control and warming is kept at a manageable level (what climate scientists refer to as RCP2.6), droughts and heatwaves might occur together in about 4% of the years. Extreme weather conditions will affect the supply of major crops resulting in difficulty to meet the increasing demand of the popular alcoholic beverage across the world. What will be the climate change impact on luxury essentials?

In the most extreme scenario, the findings suggest United Kingdom beer consumption could fall by between 0.37 billion and 1.33 billion litres, while the price could as much as double.

Global temperatures are expected to increase the price of beer because barley - the main ingredient in the alcoholic beverage - is easily affected by heat and droughts, as noted by CNN. The study found that in less extreme weather events, crop yields could still fall by three percent. But they said it would affect the quality of life of many people. Consumption in the USA could decrease by between 1.08 billion and 3.48 billion litres. We then modelled what this would mean for barley yields in 34 world regions which either produce or drink a lot of beer.

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Experts predict barley production could drop by 17 per cent in the years to come which would also impact the price of beer.

Under the hottest scenario, China will suffer the most shortages this century, followed by the United States, Germany, and Russian Federation, it said.

Drinkers in the United Kingdom would be forced to cut back their consumption by 25% in a worst-case climate change scenario, and in the U.S., 14% fewer bottles would be opened.

In Ireland, a leading beer-consuming nation, prices could triple, the study says. "A sufficient beer supply may help with the stability of entertainment and communication in society", Guan said. It also expects average beer prices to double.

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In a worst-case scenario beer prices would double worldwide, the study says, and people would drink 16 percent less beer.

The next step for Guan was to determine the supply chain reaction to estimate price increases.

The Brewers Association, the USA trade group, responded to the study by calling it "largely an academic exercise and not one that brewers or beer lovers should lose any sleep over". "A paper on beer might seem a little bit frivolous when it's dealing with a topic that poses existential threats", Davis said.

Beer joins other "luxury products" like coffee and wine that may be severely impacted by climate change.

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