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Climate and Food Justice

Why climate change is making people hungry

Climate change hits poor people first and worst. It's a climate crisis that deepens poverty and exacerbates injustice. Wild weather and unpredictable seasons are changing what farmers can grow and affecting their livelihoods.

Climate change is also one of the biggest threats to ending global hunger. Around 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, 80 per cent of them are small-scale food producers. The poorest are often the most vulnerable and least prepared to cope with the effects of climate change.

However, poor communities around the world are the least responsible for emissions. The richest one per cent of the world’s population uses 175 times more carbon on average than someone from the bottom 10 per cent.

Therefore, rich and high emitters should be held accountable for their emissions. Apart from mitigation, they should provide funding to support developing and most affected countries in adapting to climate change. 

Global response: mitigation and adaptation

In order to prevent the impacts of climate change from devastating poor countries and communities, ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation’ must be carried out hand in hand. 

Reducing the threat of climate change for poor countries

Even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases right now, the cumulative effects of the pooled greenhouse gases would still warm the Earth and bring about severe negative impacts.

Therefore, poor communities have an unparalleled need to adapt to climate change. Adaptation implies transformation in farming methods and the means of income generation, and reducing the direct impact on livelihoods from an unpredictable climate:

In South Africa, farmers are switching to faster-growing crops.
In Bangladesh, flood-ridden communities have started to develop floating gardens.
In Vietnam and the Philippines, mangroves are planted as a buffer to storm surges.
In the drought-ridden regions of China, farmers are switching to drought-resistant crop species.

However, due to the shortage of finance and resources in these poor countries and communities already burdened with the chronic problems associated with social development, external funding and technologies are indispensable to supporting sustained adaptive measures.

Advocating for climate justice

In 1992, the world took its first steps towards addressing climate change by holding the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Rio de Janeiro, its first summit-level meeting. Then in 1995, an annual meeting, the Conference of Parties (or COP), was convened to assess the progress made in the fight against climate change.

Oxfam first proposed to fight climate change at the Bali Climate Change Conference in 2007. Since then, Oxfam has continued to look into issues like climate change and how it relates to poverty, as well as climate justice.

See Oxfam’s response to climate change


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