Developing strategies to end hunger

Lives of Hungry and Poor People in the Balance at UN Doha Meetings

Climate Change
As the annual conference of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change regroups this week in Doha, Qatar, Americans on the other side of the world continue to pick up the pieces left behind more than a month ago by Hurricane Sandy. Many Americans are still waiting for electricity to return to their homes.

It may be premature to blame events like Sandy entirely on rising greenhouse gas levels, but experts are clear that the timing is no coincidence. The United States is only the latest “ground zero” in an unprecedented string of natural disasters that are hitting communities around the world with increased frequency. And our country is among the most resilient, thanks to a well-developed disaster response system. Many are not so fortunate, and cost is high in both lives and livelihoods.

The causal relationship is now nearly undeniable:

Emissions induced by industrialization.→ Rising global temps.→ Millions of threatened lives.    

The World Bank is already pleading with national leaders to take swift action to cap rising temperatures: “Without further commitments and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world is likely to warm by more than 3°C above the preindustrial climate.” If that number reaches 4°C, we would see “unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on human systems, ecosystems, and associated services.” 

Poor and hungry people stand to lose the most, and leaders at Doha cannot forget that. 

Mapping the World by Carbon Emissions in 2008
Mapping the World by Carbon Emissions in 2008 

The negotiations at Doha this week will not debate the reality of the crisis—but rather who will have to make the necessary emissioncuts. Industrialized countries are responsible for the majority of carbon emissions (click here to view full map). And the tricky fact remains that very few high-income countries were able to develop their economies and raise standards of living without relying heavily on fossil fuels. But now that fossil fuels—still considered a basic ingredient of economic development—have been proven the main cause of harmful climate changes, how are optimistic newcomers like China, India, and Brazil—now in the midst of the development process—to respond? Should they be expected to stall their growth because industrialized countries led them down an unsustainable path to development?

As this adorable video-clip illustrates—a sustainable and pro-growth solution will be quite the job for our Doha delegates from both sides. Domestic interests will make it difficult for industrialized countries to take responsibility—but the health of our global ecosystem and human populations demands it. Negotiations must prioritize our highest obligation—the millions of lives of the most vulnerable. And rich countries have a clear responsibility to take the lead.  

For more on this and other hunger-related issues, explore the 2013 Hunger Report website, which includes infographics, like the one above, photos, videos, and more.


Derek profile thumbnail
Derek Schwabe
 is the 2013 Hunger Report project fellow at Bread for the World Institute.


« Check Out the 2013 Hunger Report Resilience: Not Another Acronym »


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