‘Empty Bellies Fuel Unrest’: Climate Chaos And Food Crises Threaten Global Peace, Warns UN Chief


Antonio Guterres, the United Nations chief warned Tuesday that climate chaos and food crises are increasing threats to global peace, telling a high-level UN meeting that climate disasters imperil food production and “empty bellies fuel unrest.”

An AP report said:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the UN Security Council to address the impact of food shortages and rising temperatures on international peace and security — a view echoed by many countries but not Russia.

‘“Climate and conflict are two leading drivers of (our) global food crisis,” the secretary-general said. “ Where wars rage, hunger reigns – whether due to displacement of people, destruction of agriculture, damage to infrastructure, or deliberate policies of denial.”

‘“Meanwhile, climate chaos is imperiling food production the world over,” he said.

‘Guterres said the world is teeming with examples of “the devastating relationship between hunger and conflict.”


In war-torn Gaza, he said, no one has enough to eat and the tiny strip accounts for 80% of the 700,000 hungriest people in the world.

‘After more than a decade of war in Syria, he said, 13 million Syrians go to bed hungry every night.

‘And in Myanmar, prospects of ending hunger have gone into reverse because of conflict and instability, he said.’


The AP report said:

‘Simon Stiell, the United Nations climate chief, told the council that climate change is contributing to food insecurity and to conflict.

‘He said one in 10 people on the planet today already suffers from chronic hunger and if climate change accelerates, “it will become worse.”

‘“Rapid, sustained action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to increase resilience is needed now to help stop both from spiraling out of control,” Stiell said.

‘The executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change said the Security Council “must acknowledge more can be done rather than hoping the problem will go away — which it would not.”

‘The UN’s most powerful body should be requesting regular updates on climate security risks, he said.


The AP report said:

‘Beth Bechdol, deputy director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, said scientific evidence is clear: “Climate change is compromising food security, and its impacts are a growing threat to international peace and security.”

‘She reiterated a longtime FAO warning: “There is no food security without peace, and no peace without food security.”

‘Bechdol said 258 million people in 58 countries are facing high levels of food insecurity and over two-thirds of them — 174 million people — are at high hunger levels because of climate and conflict.

‘“While there may not be a direct causality between the two, there is clear evidence that climate change increases risks and drivers of conflict and instability, such as disputes over land and water,” Bechdol said. “And conflict contributes to climate change vulnerability, especially for people who are forced to leave their homes and migrate.”

‘As an example of the complex relationship between climate change and conflict, she pointed to West and Central Africa herders who had peacefully crossed borders with their livestock in search of water and pasture for years. But climate change, environmental and security pressures have led to increased tensions and competition between herders and farmers for scarce resources including water and land, she said.

‘Bechdol stressed that climate change and conflict affect not only livestock but crop production, fishing and forestry “which are intimately and inextricably linked to climate change.”

‘She urged the UN and others to focus on agriculture “as a key solution to the growing threats from climate change, conflict and their impacts on food security.”’

It said:

‘Guyana’s President Mohamed Irfaan Ali, whose country holds the council presidency this month and chaired the meeting, said the impact of climate change and food insecurity on international peace and security was chosen as the topic for the meeting because of the increasing links. About 90 countries were expected to speak over two days.

‘“Conflict is the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Africa, and the same can be said about Haiti,” Ali told the meeting, adding the war in Gaza is putting tons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

‘“The Security Council must take into account the consequential effects on food security and climate in addressing the issues of conflict and war,” the president said, stressing that “these issues are intricately linked to the rule of law, democracy and governance.”’


Media report said:

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, blamed former Western colonial powers and the US as “the real root causes” of the problems facing developing countries in Africa and elsewhere today.

He said “they continue to siphon resources” from former colonies and take military action “against problematic sovereign countries to destroy their statehood” pointing to former Yugoslavia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

“Neo-colonialist practices are the real reason for socio-economic difficulties which the developing world is encountering,” the Russian ambassador said.


Another AP report said on Feb. 3, 2024:

‘The U.N. food agency said Friday it has received reports of people dying from starvation in Sudan, where raging fighting between rival generals is hampering the distribution of aid and food supplies to those most hungry.

‘The 10 months of clashes between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, has decimated vast swaths of the northeastern Africa country.

‘The conflict erupted last April in the capital, Khartoum, and quickly spread to other areas of the country, after months of simmering tensions between the two forces.

‘World Food Program said that some 18 million people across Sudan currently face acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines of the conflict.’

The report said:

‘The hotspots include Khartoum, the western Darfur region, and the provinces of Kordofan and Gezira — areas where roadblocks, taxation demands and security threats endanger supplies.

‘“Life-saving assistance is not reaching those who need it the most, and we are already receiving reports of people dying of starvation,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s director for Sudan.

‘The United Nations says at least 12,000 people have been killed in the conflict, although local doctors groups say the true toll is far higher. Over 10.7 million people have been displaced, according to the UN migration agency.

‘Dagalo’s paramilitary forces appear to have had the upper hand in the conflict over the past three months, with their fighters advancing to the east and north across Sudan’s central belt. Both sides have been accused of war crimes by rights groups.

‘Regional partners in Africa have been trying to mediate an end the conflict, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States, which facilitated several rounds of unsuccessful, indirect talks between the warring parties. Burhan and Dagalo are yet to meet in person since the conflict began.’


An AP report said:

‘To keep Earth from overheating too much, the nations of the world need to put fewer loopholes in climate agreements and far more money — trillions of dollars a year — into financial help for poor nations, the United Nations climate chief said Friday.

‘In an unusual and blunt lecture at a university in Baku, Azerbaijan, the host city of upcoming international climate negotiations later this year, United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell called gains made in the past not nearly enough. Without the proper amount of cash, he said those could “quickly fizzle away into more empty promises.”

‘Much of it comes down to money: $2.4 trillion a year, Stiell said. That is how much a United Nations High-Level Expert Group on Climate Finance estimated that developing nations — not including China — need to invest in renewable energy instead of dirtier fossil fuels, as well as to adapt to and recover from climate change harms such as floods, storms, droughts and heat waves.

‘Richer nations have promised less than 5% of that amount in climate financial help to poor nations — and they often haven’t even delivered that much.

The report said:

‘“It’s already blazingly obvious that finance is the make-or-break factor in the world’s climate fight,” Stiell said. “We need torrents — not trickles — of climate finance.”

‘United Nations climate officials emphasized the next two years are crucial for curbing climate change, with 2024 negotiations in Baku followed by a critical meeting in Brazil in 2025, when countries are required to come up with new and stronger pledges to cut emissions of all heat-trapping gases. To do that, officials said money is the great enabler of action.

‘“The time has passed for business-as-usual in all aspects of the world’s climate fight,” Stiell said.

‘After briefly praising last year’s climate agreement that said fossil fuels cause warming and the world needs to “transition away” from use of them in many instances, Stiell offered a rare but subtle rebuke.

‘“Hiding behind loopholes in decision texts or dodging hard work ahead through selective interpretation would be entirely self-defeating for any government as climate impacts hammer every country’s economy and population,” Stiell said. Stiell’s office declined to detail which loopholes he was talking about.’

The report said:

‘Activists, scientists and small island nations that are most vulnerable to warming’s worst effects criticized last year’s deal specifically for what they called loopholes. Samoa’s lead delegate Anne Rasmussen blasted the deal as business as usual, saying it could take the world backward, not forward. Stiell, a native of the vulnerable island nation of Grenada, leapt to his feet to applaud the Samoan’s complaint — much to the chagrin of the president of the negotiations, an oil executive from host United Arab Emirates.

‘“The problem with the text is that it still includes cavernous loopholes that allow the United States and other fossil fuel-producing countries to keep going on their expansion of fossil fuels,” Center for Biological Diversity energy justice director Jean Su said in December. Su cited a “pretty deadly, fatal flaw” in the text for allowing “transitional fuels” — a code word for carbon-emitting natural gas — to continue.

‘Joanna Depledge, a climate negotiations historian at Cambridge University in England, said the idea that the weak language in the Dubai agreement is “somehow seen as a triumph” shows the world is in trouble.

“It will take an Olympian effort over the next two years to put us on track to where we need to be in 2030 and 2050,” Stiell said.’

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