Monday 19 March 2018

'Hundreds of millions could starve', climate talks told

President of the climate talks Laurent Fabius. Photo: Reuters
President of the climate talks Laurent Fabius. Photo: Reuters

Hundreds of millions more people could go hungry around the world without an ambitious agreement to cut climate change emissions, campaigners have warned.

The impacts of rising temperatures, such as drought, are set to hit agricultural production and are already exacerbating conflicts - including the war in Syria - creating fragile states with a high proportion of people facing hunger and malnutrition, Action Against Hunger executive director Mike Penrose warned.

Negotiators from 195 countries are in Paris to hammer out a deal that will cut emissions to prevent temperature rises of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels - above which dangerous climate change is expected - and provide funding for poor countries to cope with global warming.

It is "fundamental" the new deal on climate change makes strong references to tackling the threat to food security and the burden that will be created without an ambitious agreement, Mr Penrose urged.


"There are 800 million people suffering from hunger and malnutrition today. If we have wishy-washy agreements in terms of carbon reduction and investment in climate adaptation, another 600 million are falling into the food insecure, hunger and undernourished bracket," he said.

Countries have already signed up to ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture in the sustainable development goals agreed earlier this year.

Without a strong deal to tackle climate change, however, those pledges will not be met, with a significant economic cost as undernourished children fail to reach their full potential.

Campaigners want the deal to recognise the reasons for cutting emissions and that the world deserves a food-secure future, he said.

"There's a risk the race for carbon agreements, for carbon reductions, will ignore why we have a race for carbon reductions," Mr Penrose said.

He also said there was a need for more "climate smart" agriculture which produced fewer emissions.

He called for the removal of agricultural subsidies in the US and EU, warning that payments to farmers to grow food that is not used, or to produce carbon-intensive foods such as meat, creates unnecessary carbon emissions.

The head of the international climate summit has said the climate talks are off to "a good start" thanks to 150 world leaders who came to Paris on Monday, but now negotiations have to speed up.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, president of the climate talks, said "there's very strong momentum" but that's not enough. He said negotiators need to get another draft to him by noon on Saturday.

He added: "We must speed the process up because we have much work to do... compromise solutions must be found as soon as possible."

The head of the World Food Programme, meanwhile, is warning that hunger linked to climate change may worsen mass migrations, and is hoping for an ambitious international accord to slow global warming.

Ertharin Cousin said that people "will move if they don't have enough to eat".

Irish Independent

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