More than 9 million Indians at risk of hunger due to climate change: report

According to the report, the average temperature across India is expected to increase by 2.4°C to 4.4°C by 2100. Similarly, summer heat waves are expected to triple or quadruple by 2100 in India.

Representative image. iStockphoto

The effects of climate change will put 9.06 crore Indians at risk of starvation over the next eight years, according to the World Food Policy Report 2022 on ‘Climate Change and Food Systems’ by the International Research Institute. on Food Policy (IFPRI).

The report released on Thursday, May 12 says that by 2030, without climate change, 7.39 crore Indians are likely to go hungry, but when the effects of climate change are taken into account, the number rises to 9.06 crore.

However, according to the report, the same number will increase from 9.06 crores to 4.49 crores by 2050. Without climate change, it will be 4.5 crores.

In South Asia, climate change is expected to reduce agricultural GDP due to lower crop yields and higher consumer prices, with greater losses associated with higher levels of warming.

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By 2030, the number of hungry people in the developing world will fall by 18.6 crores (36%) with investments without climate change, while the same investments under climate change will not reduce hunger than 16.5 crores (28%), according to the report.

According to the report, the average temperature across India is expected to increase by 2.4°C to 4.4°C by 2100. Similarly, summer heat waves are expected to triple or quadruple by 2100 in India.

A global study that factors in extreme weather events estimates that by 2050 the number of people at risk of hunger will increase by 11-20%, with South Asia (along with sub-Saharan Africa) most at risk , and estimates that Asia will need three times its current food reserves to offset the impacts of such events, he added.

The aggregate food production index without climate change will be 1.627 in 2030 and 2.164 in 2050, and with the effects of climate change it will be 1.549 in 2030 and 2.003 in 2050. In 2010 it was 1. 00.

Additionally, speaking of the effects of climate change, the IFPRI report stated, “Climate change is a growing threat to our food systems, with impacts increasingly evident. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events, among other effects, are already reducing agricultural yields and disrupting food supply chains. By 2050, climate change is expected to put millions of people at risk of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Agricultural production plummets in India

“The world is still a long way from achieving the emission reductions needed to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. While this goal remains achievable, the longer we wait, the harder it will become to achieve it. For every tenth of a degree the global average temperature rises above 1.5°C, the human and environmental costs are expected to increase at an increasing rate. For the foreseeable future, climate change will continue to disrupt food systems with increasing frequency and severity unless action is taken now,” he added.

The report raised concerns that less than eight years from 2030, achieving the goal of ending hunger and malnutrition presents a formidable challenge, which requires renewed efforts to raise productivity and incomes to lift billions of people out of poverty.

In India, agricultural production data (1967-2016) for several crops show that average land productivity declines as average temperatures increase, and this impact accelerates at higher levels of warming. Projections show that Indian crop yields will drop 1.8-6.6% by mid-century (2041-2060) and 7.2-23.6% by the end of the century (2061 -2080) under an intermediate scenario for climate change. Yield losses are expected to be higher under rainfed conditions, and wheat and maize yield losses are expected to be higher than rice yield losses, according to the report.

“Code Red for Humanity”

Johan Swinnen, Managing Director, IFPRI, and Global Director, Systems Transformation, CGIAR, said, “This year’s World Food Policy Report on food systems transformation and climate change echoes the stark warning issued by the recent reports from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): as we continue to degrade the environment and push our planetary limits, we are entering a “red code for humanity”. Food systems are inextricably linked to this unprecedented crisis, which threatens the food security, nutrition and health of billions of people.

“Our food systems are not only severely impacted by climate change, requiring urgent attention to adaptation, but also play a role in causing around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, including two thirds result from agriculture, forestry and other land use Investing in food systems transformation is a key part of the climate change puzzle, but it is vastly underfunded, with only a small portion of climate finance dedicated to that goal,” Swinnen added.

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