Global warming 'will double the price of beer' as climate change hits barley yields

Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world’s most popular alcoholic drink will become scarcer. Stock photo: PA
Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world’s most popular alcoholic drink will become scarcer. Stock photo: PA

Timothy Gardner

Climate change will cause "dramatic" price spikes in beer with Ireland particularly affected, new research has found.

Extreme heatwaves and droughts will increasingly damage the global barley crop, meaning a common ingredient of the world's most popular alcoholic drink will become scarcer.

Key brewing nations are forecast to be among the worst hit, including Belgium, the Czech Republic and Ireland.

The research anticipates the price of beer will almost double here, rising by 93pc as a result. It anticipates consumption in Ireland will plummet by almost a third, or 29.5pc.

Average global barley yields during extreme events are expected to drop between 3pc and 17pc, depending on the conditions, said the study, published in the journal 'Nature Plants'.

The researchers said that compared with life-threatening affects of global warming such as the floods and storms faced by millions, a beer shortage may seem relatively unimportant. But they said it would affect the quality of life of many people.

"There is little doubt that for millions of people around the world, the climate impacts on beer availability and price will add insult to injury," said Prof Dabo Guan, at the University of East Anglia, one of the research team. "There is something fundamental in the cross-cultural appreciation of beer. If you still want to have a couple of pints of beer while you watch the football, then climate change [action] is the only way out. This is the key message."

Mr Guan said beer price spikes and shortages might even affect social stability, noting the prohibition era in the US saw organised crime supplying illicit liquor.

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The study did not consider climate change's effects on other ingredients of beer such as hops. But using other grains such as wheat to brew is unlikely to be an option, as all crops will suffer from extreme weather. Nor will what he calls other "luxury essentials" be an alternative source of pleasure:

"All these are going to be more expensive - chocolate, coffee and tea - all those crops are going to be suffering."

Irish Independent


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