Will Climate Change Affect Cocaine Production? Employing Indirect Agricultural Impact Modeling Techniques to Assess Climate's Role in Illicit Coca Yields in Colombia, with Implications for Adaptation and Policy
Agricultural impacts assessments have modeled the potential yield decreases in licit crops due to climate change, but few studies have addressed the interaction between drug crops and climate. This paper employs three indirect agricultural impact techniques to approximate the role of future climate scenarios in illicit coca crop production in Colombia. This paper finds that yields could decrease as much as 40 percent due to climate without adaptation, but that future temperature and rainfall are not direct causal explanations – rather, changing land suitability and soil conditions explain the decline. However, separate analysis reveals that future climates in Colombia stay within the favorable range of coca growth, with slight regional variation around optimum growth temperature. The conclusion that coca cultivation is not existentially threatened by climate supports adaptation strategies that admit coca will continue to be a viable crop relative to other cash crops grown by Colombian smallholders. Policymakers may consider pathways toward market formalization of non-cocaine coca in Colombia since coca’s vulnerability to climate change is relatively low and regionally non-uniform.