Iraq: Food Security

House of Lords written question – answered on 1st April 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Tonge Baroness Tonge Spokesperson in the Lords, Health

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, which claims that food security could be adversely affected by climate change, leading to social unrest in Iraq.

Photo of Lord Malloch-Brown Lord Malloch-Brown Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Africa, Asia and the UN)

We welcome the report as an attempt to disseminate existing scientific evidence. Understanding the science of climate change is key to creating the political conditions for a global agreement on greenhouse gas reduction and allowing Governments and international organisations to better prepare for the consequences of climate change. The transition to a low-carbon, high-growth global economy is crucial to our security and prosperity.

Climate change will hit the poorest countries hardest. While scientific models of the distribution of climate change effects are uncertain, as this report indicates, the Middle East is predicted to be at considerable risk over the next 60 to 90 years. As this report highlights, most models suggest water availability is likely to decline in the region and this could have serious consequences for food production.

However, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (November 2007) concluded that even with the combined challenges of population growth and climate change, global capacity to produce staple food commodities is unlikely to be compromised. Certain regions may increasingly depend on imports from other countries but, at the global level, higher productivity is likely to compensate for this.

We welcome the growing international debate linking climate change and security, such as the recent EU report presented to the spring Council. Food security is an important part of this debate and will increasingly become an issue, even if overall global capacity is not compromised. We are taking the security impacts of climate change very seriously, continuing to develop our evidence base and analysing its impacts on our own policies. We are also supporting the work of the World Bank and other international organisations to assist developing countries in preparing for the effects of climate change.

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