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07 APR 2014

Emissions must be cut if we are to tackle hunger – Oxfam

Countries across the world must play their fair part in cutting emissions if we are to reduce the harmful impacts of climate change on global food supply, worldwide development organisation Oxfam warned today.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today opens its meeting in Berlin to finalise its landmark report on cutting global emissions. This comes just a week after it met in Japan, where governments acknowledged that climate change will have a bigger affect on food production than stated in the IPCC’s previous report seven years ago.

Oxfam says that every country must be part of the global effort to keep climate change under control, but that this must be fair, based on responsibility and capability. Rich countries must make the deepest cuts and support poor countries so they can switch to low carbon development and adapt to worsening impacts. Emerging economies with growing responsibilities and capabilities must step up their efforts to cut emissions. Also, since most of the world’s poorest people live in middle income countries, governments must make sure that, internally, cuts are borne more fairly by the wealthy.

Oxfam’s Manager of Climate Change and Poverty,  Wang Bin-bin said: “The impact of climate change on the world’s food supply is clear. The race is now on to cut emissions so that every country plays its fair part. Rich countries are responsible for most emissions and must lead the way in cutting emissions to levels that will avoid more hunger and suffering.”

The IPCC mitigation report is expected to state that it is still possible to keep warming below 2°C, but only if deeper cuts are made quickly. It is expected to assess ways to identify each country’s fair share in the global effort and to conclude that rich countries must cut emissions first and most. So far, rich countries have failed to make the cuts needed. The European Union is currently considering cuts of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030 – however this is not enough of its share to avoid warming of above 2°C. Oxfam is calling on the EU to increase its cuts to at least 55 per cent.

Oxfam is also calling for a shift from fossil fuels, which account for more than 80 per cent of annual global carbon emissions, to low carbon alternatives that benefit the poorest. Oxfam also singles out food and beverage companies to cut emissions in their supply chains.

Without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of climate change will become more serious. It is estimated there could be 25 million more malnourished children under the age of five in 2050 compared to a world without climate change – the number of all under-fives in the United States and Canada combined.