Oxfam has warned that food prices could more than double by 2030 if extreme weather conditions in the US cause a drought.
The charity has published a report that warns consumers are likely to face substantially higher prices as instances of extreme weather become more common caused by climate change and affect global food crops.
The charity says that the impact of climate change on food prices is being underestimated and warns that in the future situations like that seen in the US this year where a drought has affected wheat and maize production will have a stronger impact on the wallets of consumers in future years.
The report, “Extreme Weather, Extreme Prices”, warns that if a similar drought in the US occurred in 2030 then the price of maize could increase by up to 140 per cent above normal food prices at that time, which are likely to be double today’s prices.
Similar droughts in India, if they occurred, would add 22 per cent to the price at the time of the extreme weather and potential droughts in southern Africa could also raise the price of maize and other grains rise by as much as 120 per cent.
In a statement, Oxfam said: "Political leaders must heed the warning of food agencies, stop dragging their feet and convene an emergency meeting of the Rapid Response Forum to prevent the threatened food price crisis becoming a reality.”
Oxfam's climate change policy adviser, Tim Gore, said: "Extreme weather events like the current US drought can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes.
"We will all feel the impact as prices spike but the poorest people will be hit hardest.
"The huge potential impact of extreme weather events on future food prices is missing from today's climate change debate. The world needs to wake up to the drastic consequences facing our food system of climate inaction."
"Our governments 'stress-tested' the banks after the financial crisis. We now need to stress test the global food system under climate change to identify where we are most vulnerable.
Three UN food agencies made a joint statement calling on governments to take long term steps to insure against future price shocks.
The statement from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said that weather had been the cause of each of the three international food spikes in the past five years.
The statement said: “Until we find the way to shock-proof and climate-proof our food system, the danger will remain.”
However, The Adam Smith Institute rejects many of Oxfam’s claims, saying: “Price controls have never worked, and always create shortages: producers are simply not incentivised to produce anymore. Price controls dry up supply and create a black market where the poorest are even worse off.”
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