Rangelands are one of the Earth’s major ice-free land cover types. They provide food and support livelihoods for millions of people in addition to delivering important ecosystems services. However, rangelands are at threat from climate change, although the extent and magnitude of the potential impacts are poorly understood. Any declines in vegetation biomass and fluctuations in grazing availability would be of concern for food production and ecosystem integrity and functionality. In this study, we use a global rangeland model in combination with livestock and socio-economic datasets to identify where and to what extent rangeland systems may be at climatic risk. Overall, mean herbaceous biomass is projected to decrease across global rangelands between 2000 and 2050 under RCP 8.5 (−4.7%), while inter- (year-to-year) and intra- (month-to-month) annual variabilities are projected to increase (+21.3% and +8.2%, respectively). These averaged global estimates mask large spatial heterogeneities, with 74% of global rangeland area projected to experience a decline in mean biomass, 64% an increase in inter-annual variability and 54% an increase in intra-annual variability. Half of global rangeland areas are projected to experience simultaneously a decrease in mean biomass and an increase in inter-annual variability—vegetation trends both potentially harmful for livestock production. These regions include notably the Sahel, Australia, Mongolia, China, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and support 376 million people and 174 million ruminant Tropical Livestock Units. Additionally, the rangeland communities currently the most vulnerable (here, with the lowest livestock productivities and economic development levels and with the highest projected increases in human population densities) are projected to also experience the most damaging vegetation trends for livestock production. Although the capacity of rangeland systems to adapt is highly complex, analyses such as these generate some of the information required to inform options to facilitate pastoral system mitigation and adaptation strategies under climate change.