Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Warning on global food price hikes

Consumers could face more spikes in food prices as extreme weather caused by climate change affects major crops worldwide

Consumers could face more spikes in food prices as extreme weather caused by climate change affects major crops worldwide, according to a new Oxfam report.

The charity claims that the full impact of climate change on future food prices is being underestimated and warns that consumers will become more vulnerable to events like the current US drought as dependence on exports of wheat and maize increases.

The report, titled Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices, says a US drought in 2030 could raise the price of maize by as much as 140% over and above the average price of food, which is already likely to be double today's prices.

Drought and flooding in southern Africa could increase the consumer price of maize and other coarse grains by as much as 120% by 2030, the reports says, while nationwide drought in India or extensive flooding across South East Asia could see the world market price of rice increase by 22%.

The report warns that such spikes would affect UK consumers who are already facing high food prices without the full weight of extreme weather events and climate change.

Oxfam's climate change policy adviser Tim Gore said: "Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns hold back crop production and cause steady price rises. But extreme weather events like the current US drought can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes. We will all feel the impact as prices spike but the poorest people will be hit hardest.

"The huge potential impact of extreme weather events on future food prices is missing from today's climate change debate. The world needs to wake up to the drastic consequences facing our food system of climate inaction."

He added: "As emissions continue to soar, extreme weather in the US and elsewhere provides a glimpse of our future food system in a warming world. Our planet is heading for average global warming of 2.5-5°C this century. It is time to face up to what this means for hunger and malnutrition for millions of people on our planet.

"Our governments 'stress-tested' the banks after the financial crisis. We now need to stress test the global food system under climate change to identify where we are most vulnerable.

"Governments must also act now to slash rising greenhouse gas emissions, reverse decades of under investment in small-scale agriculture in poor countries and provide the additional money needed to help poor farmers adapt to a changing climate."

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