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EL PAÍS, Maria Helena Semedo: “Agriculture should be integrated in climate change policies”

FAO warns of the increase of migrations due to famines linked to global warming


MANUEL PLANELLES, EL PAÍS, Paris- “Agriculture is seen as a threat in the fight against climate change,” Maria Helena Semedo warns. The Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) calls for this sector “to be integrated in climate policies.” “If there are no policies that integrate agriculture, because it is only seen as a threat, there will be more hungry people in the world,” Semedo underscored, who is also participating in the Paris Climate Conference, where attempts at finalizing the first global agreement on global warming are taking place.

Agriculture and the use of soils have made a strong debut in this occasion to the series of measures against greenhouse gases, the sources of global warming. From the 186 countries that have already laid out voluntary plans to reduce their emissions, around 100 of them include measures related to the use of soils and agriculture. But Semedo fears that these policies may only take agriculture into account as a “threat” and that governments forget about food security.

A recent World Bank report estimates at 100 million the number of people in the world who could fall into poverty in the next 15 years as a consequence of climate change. The main impact, the study indicated, will be on agricultural productivity (which will diminish) and on food prices, which will increase. “Climate change now especially affects countries that have not contributed to generating the problem,” points out Semedo. “It causes more harm to developing countries and the disadvantaged classes.” It affects, in essence, “the means of subsistence.”

The increase in temperatures and prevalence of extreme phenomena like droughts and floods has a strong impact on agriculture. “We are no longer speaking of the past, it’s already affecting,” said Semedo. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented an analysis a few weeks ago of 28 extreme climatic phenomena registered in 2014. And it concluded that half of them were more intense as a result of global warming. 

Climate migrants 

Semedo especially worries of a rising phenomenon, that of “the climate migrants.” That fall in agricultural production unleashes a population movement from the “rural [world] to the cities.” “And to other countries,” she adds. “If we don’t act now the migrations will increase”.

“The migrations from Somalia and Syria are not only for political and security matters, they are also derived from the droughts; the population doesn’t have food,” this FAO functionary added. For this reason, Semedo insists on the need to keep food security in mind in the fight against global warming. “There have to be technological solutions for adaption,” she points out, that help “reduce emissions” but that also help in ending hunger. 

Adapted from: http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2015/12/09/actualidad/1449651014_537853.html


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