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Oxfam: Climate change will increase incidence of world hunger

By Stephanie Dearing     Jul 6, 2009 in Environment
Oxfam International says the effects of climate change are becoming more devastating and changes in localized weather patterns are affecting global food production. Oxfam warns that increased hunger will result.
Oxfam International released a report today, Suffering the Science: Climate Change, People and Poverty, that details the worsening effects of climate change on the world. The report concludes that chronic hunger may become a norm for most of the world's population, but most particularly the poor.
The report, released ahead of the G8 summit, says that climate change already adversely affects more than 100 million people in more than 100 countries. Oxfam's claims are supported by recent news reports.
For example, today news from Southern China said that both China and Vietnam just experienced severe flooding that has dislocated several thousands of people and damaged crops, as well as houses and other infrastructure.
On July 4, the Globe and Mail reported that a majority of Canada's prairie farmers have lost their crops from this year's ongoing drought, and farmers are now preparing to write off their losses.
G8 nations are meeting in Italy on July 10. While the main topics of discussion are the global economic crisis and the environment, other topics for the three day summit include world security (including health, food and physical security), international trade, and boosting aid for the world's poor.
The Summit's agenda boasts a "people-first" approach;
"The international community is living through one of its most serious economic and financial crises since World War II. If we are to make it through this crisis, we have to consider its social aspect and to place people in the centre of government action by pursuing policies designed to restore people's confidence. Countries must continue to implement strategies capable of reducing the impact of the crisis on employment, and of ensuring that welfare and social safeguard systems are both effective and sustainable."
Interestingly, the Oxfam International report is also emphasizing people, saying:
"There are people behind every statistic." Of those statistics, Oxfam says that 26 million people have already become environmental refugees, forced to leave their homes because of climate change impacts. The authors assert that "Without action, most of the gains that the world’s poorest countries have made in development and ameliorating the harmful effects of poverty in the past 50 years will be lost, irrecoverable in the foreseeable future."
With the world looking on, there is pressure on the leaders of the world's most affluent industrialized nations to come up with concrete actions to not only cap the carbon emissions that are responsible for climate change, but to take steps to protect the world's poor, including the protection of the poor who live in the G8 countries.
It is expected that Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper will focus on the economy. He has already garnered attention for his stance towards climate change, and given the report from Oxfam about the current and predicted effects of climate change on the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, it will be interesting to see what his position will be on the issue, given Canada's record of producing the most greenhouse gas emissions of all the G8 nations.
With the intention of other G8 leaders, such as President Barack Obama, to press forward with reducing emissions to try to prevent global temperatures from increasing by two degrees Celcius, the world will be watching Canada's leader. While climate change is now agreed upon by scientists to be inevitable, it is believed that should global temperatures increase by two degrees, climate change will become catastrophic.
Oxfam International is lobbying G8 leaders to take "responsibility" and work to ensure that there is help for the world's poor. Specifically, Oxfam is urging leaders to work to avoid the two degree temperature increase and to provide an additional $150 billion to developing nations, on top of commitments already made, so that developing nations can adapt to changing conditions and develop low impact environmentally-friendly technology.
Aside from the G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), the G5 nations will participate (Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, and South Africa). Other nations have been invited for the economic forum: Egypt, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain turkey, Angola, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal.
More about Oxfam, Climate change, World hunger, Foreign aid
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