Climate change could push up food prices
EXTREME weather linked to global warming such as droughts and floods are already causing food prices to rise, putting the world's most vulnerable people at risk, Oxfam has warned in the run up to the latest round of climate change talks.
The aid agency said that rising prices threatened food security in many parts of the world, pushing poor people into hunger and poverty as they spend more of their income on feeding themselves and their families.
Price spikes have been driven by extreme weather events such as last year's drought, heatwave and fires in Russia which sent world grain prices soaring by up to 85 per cent, and this year's monsoon floods in South East Asia which pushed up the price of rice by between 19 per cent and 30 per cent in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
And people in both the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan are facing food shortages and rocketing prices of wheat, sorghum and maize as a result of droughts in their regions.
Oxfam issued the warning after a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which assessed the latest climate science and found that impacts were already being felt as a result of rising temperatures.
A rise in the number of hot days had been seen globally, and in areas including North America, Europe and Australia, while some parts of the world had seen heavy rainfall increase and others longer and more intense droughts, the report said.
By the end of this century, the frequency of heatwaves is set to soar if there are high levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, while heavy rain is set to occur more often, the scientists said.
Ahead of the latest round of UN climate talks, which start today in Durban, South Africa, Oxfam warned that a rise in the number of extreme weather events would have catastrophic consequences for families struggling to grow or buy food.
Kelly Dent, of Oxfam, said: "From the Horn of Africa and South East Asia to Russia and Afghanistan, a year of floods, droughts and extreme heat has helped push tens of millions of people into hunger and poverty.
"This will only get worse as climate change gathers pace and agriculture feels the heat.
"Governments must act now in Durban to protect our food supply and save millions from slipping into hunger and poverty."
Oxfam is demanding that negotiators at the climate talks in Durban must back a legally-binding climate change deal and agree to conclude negotiations on it as soon as possible, while governments must move decisively to close the gap between the emissions cuts countries have already promised and the scale of reductions needed to stop global temperatures rising by more than 2C above pre-industrial levels.
And they must deliver the finance needed to help poor people tackle climate change, the aid agency said.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu led a rally at a soccer stadium later on the eve of the talks urging negotiators to be more ambitious during what were expected to be difficult talks. Unseasonably cold, windy weather kept the crowd to a few hundred spectators.