G8 must do more for food security: ActionAid

July 7th, 2008 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 7 (IANS) As the G8 summit starts in Japan, international NGO ActionAid has appealed to leaders of the world’s eight richest countries to take urgent steps to end the current global food crisis. “The ranks of the hungry have swelled to over 950 million this year, and ActionAid estimates that a further 750 million are now at risk of falling into chronic hunger,” the NGO said in a statement here Monday. “As many as 1.7 billion people, or 25 percent of the world’s population, may now lack basic food security.”

“G8 leaders can, and must take bold steps in Hokkaido to prevent world hunger spiralling further out of control,” the NGO said, demanding an immediate revocation on subsidies to biofuels production.

“ActionAid’s analysis shows that on current trends, 290 million people are hungry or at risk of chronic hunger because of the biofuels juggernaut,” the NGO said.

“The US should immediately remove all subsidies for corn ethanol production and revoke the targets for increased use of biofuels that are driving the current increase in corn and other biofuels feedstock prices.

“The EU should remove subsidies and targets that encourage the production of biofuels from food crops, such as beetroot and canola.

“G8 leaders should support a five-year moratorium on the diversion of arable land into biofuel mono cropping. Instead of subsidizing biofuels the G8 countries should increase research, investment and incentives to scale up alternative renewable energy sources.”

ActionAid alleged: “The G8 countries’ failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is already wreaking havoc on agriculture through severe floods and droughts and rising temperatures. Weather effects have already reduced harvests in some countries. In some countries in Africa, yields from rain-fed agriculture could drop by as much as 50 percent by 2020 because of climate change.

“It will cost developing countries an estimated $67 million a year to tackle these and other risks, but so far, G8 pledges to the two voluntary climate change adaptation funds amount to only $158 million, less than a tenth of what Europeans spend annually on sunscreen.”

The NGO called upon the G8 leaders to “confine future increases in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius by agreeing binding and time bound targets to reduce their own emission levels by at least 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020″.

“The US as the single largest polluter, must commit to reduce its emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and provide at least $55 billion of the estimated $67 billion annual cost of helping developing countries cope with climate change.”

Based on historic responsibility and capacity to pay, ActionAid has also demanded: “The G8 must commit to assist developing countries in accessing clean technology. Clean technology funding must be additional to overseas development assistance; should give preference to grants that provide incentives for developing countries to embrace a clean development path; and should give preference to small, locally controlled and managed projects that provide local energy access, particularly directed at women.”

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