On climate change and world hunger

Bjorn Lomborg, writing in The Australian newspaper of January 19 2018, claims that climate change policies may be making world hunger worse.

He notes that after years of decline in global hunger, it increased in 2016 affecting 815 million people, an increase of 38 million from 2015.

He notes that the FAO blames the rise on a proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.

He says that achieving the Paris agreement on climate change will not change the frequency and severity of climate-related shocks and that the huge investment in mitigating climate change could make global hunger worse – by encouraging the production of bio fuels rather than food and by diverting resources from strategies to reduce world hunger.

I am not as confident as Lomborg that actions to reduce climate change will have no impact on the frequency and severity of future droughts and floods that can reduce food production.  Also, violent conflicts which affect world hunger can in themselves be an outcome of climate change.

We do have to tackle multiple problems, on multiple time horizons, simultaneously.

Here is a suggestion that can reduce world hunger and mitigate climate change.


In Australia, and in many other countries, greenhouse gas emissions are rising even though they are falling on a per capita basis (an excused used recently by Josh Frydenberg, the Australian government’s minister for energy and the environment, to justify Australia’s continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions).

Reducing world population growth will tend to reduce both future world hunger and future greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased access to family planning services in countries which are prone to bouts of food shortage would be a great investment for the future.