Report: Climate change means more hungry children

Report: Climate change means more hungry children

Scientists fear climate change will mean 25 million more hungry children over the next four decades, with subsistence farmers in Africa and Asia particularly hard hit by global warming, according to a report issued Wednesday, AP reported.

The authoritative International Food Policy Research Institute said even without climate change, 113 million children under 5 years old will be malnourished in 2050 worldwide. With climate change, the figure would be 20 percent more.

As many as 15 million of those additional malnourished children would be African.

"The negative effects of climate change on crop production are especially pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia," the report concludes.

The institute, part of a global network devoted to using science to improve farming, called on governments and donors to invest in research, irrigation and rural roads. These areas are seen as key to helping small-scale farmers produce more and earn more by getting more to market.

Gerald Nelson, a senior International Food Policy Research Institute researcher and lead author of the report, said he hoped negotiators meeting later this year in Copenhagen will approve at least $7 billion a year in spending to help farmers adapt to climate change.

The Copenhagen talks were to produce a pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Nelson, speaking to reporters ahead of the report's release, acknowledged it was "an open question what the final outcome will be in Copenhagen."

A series of preliminary talks have deadlocked over industrial countries' refusal to commit to sufficiently deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions or provide billions of dollars to poor nations to help them adapt to climate change.

Hugh Cole, a climate change adviser on southern Africa for Oxfam, said the International Food Policy Research Institute findings would be useful for negotiators trying to make the case for spending in Copenhagen.

Cole's aid and development group has called for $50 billion a year to help poor countries cope with climate change.

Other groups have called for even more. They factor in protecting the coastlines of vulnerable island nations, addressing health issues associated with hotter, wetter weather and other needs in addition to the food protection advocated by the institute.

"Any research that helps to start quantifying things is helpful," said Cole, who was not involved in the institute's research.

The researchers said the greatest investment in agriculture is needed in sub-Saharan Africa, where infrastructure is weak and the majority of the poor depend on farming for their livelihoods.

In South Asia, 14 percent less rice would be produced due to climate change, the researchers predicted. In sub-Saharan Africa, 10 percent less corn would be harvested.

Institute scientists looked at climate change scenarios developed by the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Both models predict higher temperatures, but differ on how that will affect rainfall.

The International Food Policy Research Institute's food supply and demand projections, which take into account population growth and a crop simulation model, also were incorporated into the study.

Cole, of Oxfam, said combining those models had produced "a compelling argument."

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