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Climate Change To Intensify Food Crisis

Climate change to intensify food crisis, envoy warns G8

UN official says global problems interconnected

Agencies in Amsterdam and Sapporo – SCMP – Updated on Jul 06, 2008

The global food crisis will only worsen because of climate change, the UN climate chief has warned, urging leaders of the world’s richest countries meeting in Japan tomorrow to set goals to reduce carbon emissions within the next dozen years.

Yvo de Boer’s comments come amid fears that food security and soaring oil prices could overtake climate change in the priorities of the Group of Eight meeting, although global warming was the theme set by the host, Japan, where several thousand people rallied yesterday in Sapporo.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also warned the G8 against sidelining climate change, amid fears that the credit crunch would cause the G8 industrialised nations to back-pedal on pledges to cut carbon emissions and increase aid to poor countries by US$50 billion a year.

Since the last G8 meeting in Germany, oil prices have doubled to surpass US$140 a barrel and soaring prices were already having an effect on climate issues.

Mr Brown stressed the need for united action in the west to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and boost food production in developing countries.

“The world is suffering a triple challenge: of higher fuel prices; higher food prices; and a credit crunch,” Mr Brown told The Guardian.

“My message to the G8 will be that instead of sidelining climate change and the development agenda, the present economic crisis means that instead of relaxing our efforts we have got to accelerate them.”

Mr de Boer said food and global warming were interconnected and that ignoring the issue “will get you into deeper trouble down the road”.

He said it was uncertain whether the industrialised countries would firm up the goal adopted a year ago to “consider seriously” halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

He did, however, welcome the move by the board of the World Bank on Tuesday to formally launch two investment funds for climate change that could raise up to US$10 billion.

US President George W. Bush said he would press for progress on global efforts to fight climate change, promote free trade and push G8 leaders to make good on pledges to help Africa fight HIV/Aids and other illnesses.

Mr Bush will also make the case that no global climate change pact can work unless polluting developing nations like China and India accept some form of long-term goals for curbing emissions.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also advocates formally expanding the G8 to include China and others, although Japan for one is not keen to see its Asian rival join the club.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States will be joined during the July 7 to 9 meetings in the lakeside resort of Toyako by the heads of seven African states and major economies, including China and India.

Several thousand people rallied yesterday in Sapporo, about two hours’ drive from the luxury hotel where the summit will be held.

Four Japanese men were arrested, said police on the northern island of Hokkaido, of which Sapporo is the capital. Two were arrested for violating public safety laws and two others for interfering with police activities.

Summits of the G8 have become a magnet for protesters.

Japan has detained and questioned dozens of people at its airports, including journalists and academics, in the run-up to the summit.

Agence France-Presse, Reuters, Associated Press

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