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‘Add food security to Bangkok climate talks’

Sep 05. 2018
Climate activists hold banners during a demonstration outside the United Nations (UN) Centre during the first day of the UN Climate Change Negotiating sessions in Bangkok, Thailand, 04 September 2018.  // EPA-EFE PHOTO
Climate activists hold banners during a demonstration outside the United Nations (UN) Centre during the first day of the UN Climate Change Negotiating sessions in Bangkok, Thailand, 04 September 2018. // EPA-EFE PHOTO
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THE CLIMATE JUSTICE group has called on international delegates to add food-security assurance to the agenda in climate-change negotiations, because they say it is not just extreme weather, but also improper climate-change solutions that are jeopardising global food stocks.

Climate justice activists, led by the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice (DCJ), gathered at the United Nations Conference Centre yesterday to demand that delegates at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference take urgent action to ensure food security for people and build climate resilience for people and communities.

Climate change has already adversely affected global food production and left more than 800 million people malnourished. The only way these issues can be fought is if people are given equal access to natural resources and water, land monopolisation is stopped and replacing staple food crops with agrofuel is avoided, they said.

In its statement, the DCJ said that climate change has already had a profound impact on people to provide food for their families, and the situation will become increasingly difficult in the coming years with the prospects of worsening drought and extreme weather conditions.

Ian Rivera, coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, said that since climate change has resulted in a more hostile environment for food production, governments must implement measures to ensure food security for their citizens.

“Food security can only be ensured if the utmost priority is given to staple food production for domestic consumption. As a start, governments must urgently put a stop to land grabbing and the conversion of prime agricultural land,” Rivera said.

Wanun Permpibul from Climate Watch Thailand also called on governments to stop using food production land to grow biofuel crops as part of their so-called solution to the climate crisis. He said this does not only make way for deforestation, but also releases large amounts of greenhouse gases and wastes vast areas of arable lands that could feed millions.

Wanun said the massive production of agrofuels is competing with the production of staple foods and forcing millions of poor and vulnerable people to face serious malnutrition problems.

“The international community needs to ensure that the task of curbing greenhouse gas emissions is seriously pushed forward alongside the other, equally important, mission of safeguarding and enhancing the capacity of people and communities to secure their basic needs in the face of the increasingly devastating impacts of the climate crisis,” he said.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the impact on food security by climate change has already begun in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as food production in these regions is seriously jeopardised by more frequent and intense floods, droughts and storms, triggered by the global temperature rise.

WFP has predicted that with the vast majority of the world’s hungry exposed to climate shocks, eradicating hunger requires bold efforts to improve people’s ability to prepare, respond and recover. Failing this, it is estimated that the risk of hunger and malnutrition could rise by up to 20 per cent by 2050.

This prediction was supported by studies on the impacts of climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which estimated that in the scenario of high greenhouse gas emissions, the global production of coarse grains, oil seeds, wheat and rice will decrease by 17 per cent by mid-century.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation also warned that even without the pressure of climate change, the world is already struggling to feed millions of poor people, especially in Africa and Asia. As of 2016, the number of starving people globally had risen to 815 million. 

FAO estimates that to catch up with the food demands of a rising world population in 2050, we will need to increase the annual production of crops and livestock by 60 per cent compared to 2006.

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