New report confirms hunger and malnutrition the human cost of inaction on climate change

Campaigns and Advocacy, GROW, Media Releases, News article written on the 26 Sep 2012

New research showing that climate change is already contributing to around 400,000 deaths a year due to hunger and communicable diseases highlights the devastating impact of political inaction on climate change, international aid agency Oxfam Australia said today.

The Climate Vulnerability Monitor, released on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, also reveals the staggering impact of climate change on agriculture and fisheries. Declining productivity could amount to losses of $500 billion a year by 2030, with the greatest impact in the poorest countries where millions depend on these sectors to make a living.

Oxfam Australia’s climate change expert Kelly Dent said the alarming new figures on the human cost of climate change should provide a wake-up call to governments – including the Australian Government – to ensure the next round of UN climate talks results in a clear pathway towards a fair, ambitious and binding global climate agreement.

“The Climate Vulnerability Monitor report shows once again that hunger and malnutrition are the most immediate and savage impacts of climate change,” Ms Dent said.

“Inaction on climate change will ultimately be measured in lives lost and life chances stunted by hunger, malnutrition and a food system stretched to breaking point. Behind these statistics are the stories of real families and communities, for whom climate change means putting children to bed with empty stomachs.”

The major new study is produced by DARA, an independent organisation working to improve aid effectiveness for vulnerable populations.

At the global climate talks in Durban last year, governments agreed to launch negotiations towards a more ambitious international climate treaty, to apply to all countries, to be finalised by 2015 and take effect by 2020.

But less than two months out from the next round of annual talks, to be held in Doha, Australia is yet to follow the EU countries in signing up to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires this year.

The Kyoto Protocol remains the only binding agreement to cut greenhouse emissions and a crucial legal and political bridge to a future treaty.

“Signaling our support for the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol would show Australia’s willingness to remain part of a global solution to climate change,” Ms Dent said. “The alternative, of continued wavering, risks damaging the prospects for badly-needed progress in Doha.”

For more information or interviews with Kelly Dent, Oxfam Australia’s Economic Justice Advocacy Lead, please contact Oxfam Australia media coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or