In a shocking report, Oxfam International says that ten of the world’s worst climate hotspots have suffered a 123% rise in acute hunger over just the past six years.
The brief – Hunger in a heating world– found that those 10 climate hotspots – Somalia, Haiti, Djibouti, Kenya, Niger, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, and Zimbabwe – have repeatedly been battered by extreme weather over the last two decades. Today, 48 million people across those countries suffer acute hunger (up from 21 million in 2016), and 18 million people of them are on the brink of starvation.
HUNGER; CLIMATE CHANGE EXPLODING
Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said: “Climate change is no longer a ticking bomb, it is exploding before our eyes. It is making extreme weather such as droughts, cyclones, and floods – which have increased five-fold over the past 50 years – more frequent and more deadly.”
“For millions of people already pummelled down by ongoing conflict, widening inequalities, and economic crises, repeated climate shocks are becoming a backbreaker. The onslaught of climate disasters is now outpacing poor people’s ability to cope, pushing them deeper into severe hunger,” said Bucher.
- Somalia is facing its worst drought on record. One million people forced to flee their homes due to drought. The country ranks 172nd out of 182 countries in terms of its readiness to cope with climate change.
- In Kenya, the current drought has killed nearly 2.5 million livestock and left 2.4 million people hungry, including hundreds of thousands of children severely malnourished.
- In Niger, 2.6 million people are facing acute hunger today (up 767 percent from 2016). Cereal production has crashed by nearly 40 percent, as frequent climatic shocks on top of ongoing conflict have made harvesting increasingly difficult. Production of staple foods such as millet and sorghum could plummet even further by 25 percent if global warming surpasses 2°C.
- Burkina Faso has seen a staggering 1350 percent rise in hunger since 2016, with more than 3.4 million people in extreme hunger as of June 2022 due to armed conflict and worsening desertification of crop and pastoral lands. Global warming above 2°C would likely decrease cereal yields like millet and sorghum by 15–25%.
- In Guatemala, a severe drought has contributed to the loss of close to 80 percent of the maize harvest and devastated coffee plantations.
HUNGER; INDUSTRIALISED NATIONS
The Brief said that countries that are least responsible for the climate crisis are suffering most from its impact and are also the least resourced to cope with it. Collectively responsible for just 0.13 per cent of global carbon emissions, the 10 climate hotspots sit in the bottom third of countries least ready for climate change.
The industrialized nations such as those of the G20 – which control 80 percent of the world’s economy – are together responsible for over three-quarters of the world’s carbon emissions.
Leaders of these nations continue to support mega-rich polluting companies that are often big supporters of their political campaigns. Fossil fuel companies’ daily profits have averaged $2.8 billion over the last 50 years. Less than 18 days of those profits would fund the entire UN humanitarian appeal for 2022 of $49 billion, the Oxfam report said.
The report calls for policy changes to address the double crisis of climate and hunger. Unless massive and immediate action is taken, hunger will continue to spiral.
“Ahead of UN General Assembly meetings this week, and COP 27 in November, leaders, especially of rich polluting countries, must live up to their promises to cut emissions. They must pay for adaptation measures and loss and damage in low-income countries, as well as immediately inject lifesaving funds to meet the UN appeal to respond to the most impacted countries.
“We cannot fix the climate crisis without fixing the systemic inequalities in our food and energy systems. Increasing taxation on super polluters could easily cover the cost. Just 1% of the fossil fuel companies’ average annual profit would generate $10 billion, enough to cover most of the shortfall in funding the UN humanitarian food security appeal,” Bucher said.
Cancelling debt can also help governments free up resources to invest in climate mitigation. “Rich and most polluting nations have a moral responsibility to compensate low-income countries most impacted by the climate crisis. This is an ethical obligation, not charity,” said Bucher.