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Climate change high on G8 agenda as Copenhagen Summit draws nearer
06/ 07/ 2009

Climate change high on G8 agenda as Copenhagen Summit draws nearer Nairobi, 6 July 2009 - As momentum builds towards formulating a fair and effective climate change agreement at the Copenhagen Climate Conference later this year, leaders of the world's developed nations are poised to discuss global warming at the G8 summit in the Italian town of L'Aquila from 8 to 10 July.

The G8 summit, which is the last one being held before the Copenhagen meeting in December, will see climate change and food security high on the agenda. The world's poorer nations, which contribute a marginal amount to global greenhouse gas emissions, are disproportionately affected by climate change. An Oxfam report released on 6 July says "chronic hunger may be the defining human tragedy of this century, as climate change causes growing seasons to shift, crops to fail, and storms and droughts to ravage fields".

The Oxfam report echoes UNEP's Environmental Food Crisis report released earlier this year, which notes that land degradation, erosion, drought and climate change are already causing a food crisis that has resulted in a 50-200% increase in selected commodity prices, driven 110 million people into poverty and added 44 million more to the undernourished.

The UNEP report warns that delivering food security to a growing population will become ever more challenging over the next four decades unless more intelligent management of natural resources and emerging opportunities are brought to bear.

Meanwhile, in an article in the official G8 magazine, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner also flags up the key issue of chemicals and children's health, which was raised by the governments of Japan and the United States at the G8 meeting in Siracusa.

The article calls for a more holistic approach to chemicals that can tackle both persistent and emerging challenges through a Global Green New Deal. As well as revving up the global economy and making it truly sustainable, green innovation would also help protect biodiversity and the health of children and adults around the planet.

For instance, the melting of the Arctic threatens sea level rise but is also triggering the re-release of many of the persistent organic pollutants and heavy metal compounds that are being urgently assessed in the new Japanese and United States children's health research.

In addition, new emissions of mercury - which are also being assessed in these children's' health studies - are coming from increased coal-generation. If the world can transit to a low carbon economy, this will also cut emissions of this notorious heavy metal.

There are abundant and unassailable reasons why the world needs a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy on a planet of six billion, rising to over nine billion by 2050 - from combating climate change to achieving energy security, ensuring food supplies and generating jobs to protecting the health of the world's more than two billion children and those to be born.

Further Resources
UNEP Green Economy Initiative
Seal the Deal campaign
Environment-Led Green Revolution Key to Future Food Security in Africa