Oxfam press release (edited)

Yesterday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report detailing progress and pathways to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Since Africa remains the continent with the highest Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU), affecting almost 21 percent of the population (more than 256 million people) [i], it is natural to be concerned about how this continent is affected. Oxfam's response includes the following:
"A hotter Africa is a hungrier Africa. Today at only 1.1 degrees of warming globally, crops and livestock across the region are being hit and hunger is rising, with poor small scale women farmers, living in rural areas suffering the most. It only gets worse from here. To do nothing more and simply follow the commitments made in the Paris Agreement condemns the world to 3 degrees of warming. The damage to our planet and humanity would be exponentially worse and irreparable.
"None of this is inevitable. What gives us hope is that some of the poorest and lowest emitting countries are now leading the climate fight. We've moved from an era of 'you first' to 'follow me' - it's time for the rich world to do just that. Oxfam calls for increased, responsible and accountable climate finance from rich countries that supports small scale farmers, especially women to realize their right to food security and climate justice". 

Fluctuations in agricultural production due to climate variations along with inefficient agricultural systems cause food insecurity, one of the most obvious indicators of poverty.  The 2016 El Niño phenomenon, which was super charged by the effects of climate change, crippled rain-fed agricultural production and left over 40 million people foods insecure in Africa. Without urgent action to reduce global emissions, the occurrence of climate shocks and stresses in the Africa region are expected to get much worse.

  • On 5 July this year, Africa is likely to have registered its hottest reliable record temperature in Ouargla, northern Algeria, of 51.3C (124.3F).[ii]
  • There is mounting evidence that higher temperatures linked to climate change have worsened drought and humanitarian disaster in East Africa, including last year’s drought which left over 13 million people dangerously hungry.[iii]
  • Even at 1.5 degrees of warming, climate impacts in West Africa would be devastating. Wheat yields could fall by up to 25 percent,[iv] and at 1.5 degrees Lagos in Nigeria could become a newly heat stressed city like Delhi in India.[v]
  • In sub-Saharan Africa 1.5 degrees warming by the 2030s could lead to about 40 percent of present maize cropping areas being no longer suitable for current cultivars, and significant negative impacts on sorghum suitability are projected. Under warming of less than 2 degrees by the 2050s, total crop production could be reduced by 10 percent.[vi]
  • At 2 degrees of warming heat extremes never experienced before could affect 15 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s land area in the hot season,[vii] causing deaths and threatening farmers’ ability to grow crops.
  • If global temperature rises by more than 2 degrees by the end of the century, by 2050 this could see daytime temperatures in North Africa (and the Middle East) rise to 46 degrees on the hottest days, which can be deadly.[viii]

[i] FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO (2018) The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018. Building climate resilience for food security and nutrition. Rome, FAO. http://www.fao.org/3/I9553EN/i9553en.pdf  
[ii] BBC Online 14 July 2018, Five places that have just broken heat records https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-44779367 
[iii] Carty T. (2017) A Climate in Crisis: How climate change is making drought and humanitarian disaster worse in East Africa. Oxfam media brief https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/climate-crisis  
[iv] Schleussner, C.-F. et al. (2016) Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5 °C and 2 °C, Earth System Dynamics 7, 327-351, page 337 https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-7-327-2016
[v] Tom K. R. et al. (2017) Communicating the deadly consequences of global warming for human heat stress, PNAS April 11, 2017 114 (15) p3861-3866, Page 3863 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1617526114   
[vi] World Bank (2013) Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience, page XVIII https://bit.ly/1aplL4R  
[vii] World Bank (2013) Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience, page XXVI https://bit.ly/1aplL4R
[viii] Lelieveld, J. et al (2016) Climatic Change, Volume 137, p245-260  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-016-1665-6  
Find the Agri Handbook's climate change chapter here.