The risk of hunger and malnutrition could increase by 20 per cent due to climate change by 2050, endangering the lives of millions of people, a UN agency has warned.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says climate change is making disasters, such as floods and droughts, more frequent and intense, land and water more scarce and difficult to access, and increases in agricultural productivity even harder to achieve.
The WFP study comes as nations are making efforts to finalise a draft text for a global deal on climate change in Paris this year aimed at reducing carbon emissions.
“These impacts are increasing the risk of hunger and the breakdown of food systems. Without considerable efforts made to improve people’s climate resilience, it has been estimated that the risk of hunger and malnutrition could increase by up to 20 per cent by 2050,” it says.
The WFP says climate disasters disproportionally affect the most vulnerable people at risk of hunger, especially women and children.
“The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in fragile environments prone to climate hazards with which they cannot cope.
“When climate disasters strike, the situation of already vulnerable people can quickly deteriorate into a food and nutrition crisis,” it says.
The study, however, did not specifically speak about India which traditionally has been highly vulnerable to climate related events like floods, droughts and cyclones.
The WFP says changes in climatic conditions have already affected the production of some staple crops, and future climate change threatens to exacerbate this.
Higher temperatures will have an impact on yields while changes in rainfall could affect both crop quality and quantity.
“Climate change could increase the prices of major crops in some regions. For the most vulnerable people, lower agricultural output would also mean lower income.
“Under these conditions, the poorest people — who already use most of their income on food — would have to sacrifice additional income to meet their nutritional requirements,” it says.
The WFP also says “nutrition is also likely to be affected by climate change through related impacts on food security, dietary diversity, care practices and health”.