The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is facing an "impending global food emergency" that could impact hundreds of millions of people as the coronavirus pandemic threatens already strained supply chains, according to Hong Kong-based Asia Times. He warned that the recessions that follow the pandemic will put basic nutrition out of reach for millions.
"Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse," the UN chief said in a statement accompanying a report by the UN. "More than 820 million people are hungry. "Some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted – more than one in five children worldwide."
That's particularly troubling as malnutrition has lifelong consequences. If the number of children who suffer from malnutrition grows, it is likely to cause increased stunting and provide a future strain on health care systems.
Guterres warned that "this year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the Covid-19 crisis," according to Asia Times.
"Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults," as The Guardian reported. "We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic."
The UN Secretary-General provided a three-point plan for attacking the hunger crisis: focus aid on the worst-stricken areas to avoid immediate disaster, to improve social safety nets so children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers along with other at-risk group receive adequate nutrition, and to invest in healthy and sustainable food systems and supply chains for the future, according to Guterres' statement.
The latest data in the report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Security and Nutrition, found that the food security of 135 million people is at crisis level or worse. That number could nearly double before the end of the year due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Increasing unemployment and the loss of income associated with lockdowns are also putting food out of reach for many struggling people, the report found, according to The Guardian. While global markets have remained steady, the cost for basic foods has begun to rise in some countries.
The report also expects harvests to slow down, since many seasonal laborers are unable to work or travel for work. Meanwhile, despite the impending crisis, food waste is surging as farmers are finding themselves in the unenviable position of dumping perishable food because of supply chain problems, as The Guardian reported.
"The Covid-19 crisis is attacking us at every angle," said Agnes Kalibata, the UN secretary general's special envoy for the 2021 food systems summit, as The Guardian reported. "It has exposed dangerous deficiencies in our food systems and actively threatens the lives and livelihoods of people around the world, especially the more than 1 billion people who have employment in the various industries in food systems."
However, she added that there is an opportunity to improve food systems so they are equipped to handle future shocks.
"Food has always brought people together and it can again if we build back better as it relates to our food systems," she said, as The Guardian reported.
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By Simon Montlake
For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.
All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.
Moderates Feeling the Heat<p>If elected, Mr. Biden has vowed to stop new drilling for oil and gas on federal land and in federal waters and to rejoin the 2015 Paris climate accord that President Donald Trump gave notice of quitting. He would reinstate Obama-era regulations of greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, the largest component of natural gas.</p><p>The Biden climate platform also states that all federal infrastructure investments and federal permits would need to be assessed for their climate impacts. Analysts say such a test could impede future LNG plants and pipelines, though not those that already have federal approval. </p><p>Climate change activists who pushed for that language say much depends on who would have oversight of federal agencies that regulate the industry. Some are wary of Biden's reliance on advice from Obama-era officials, including former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is now on the board of Southern Company, a utility, and a former Obama environmental aide, Heather Zichal, who has served on the board of Cheniere Energy, an LNG exporter. </p>
The Push for U.S. Fuel Exports<p>As vice president, Biden was part of an administration that pushed hard for global climate action while also promoting U.S. oil and gas exports to its allies and trading partners. As fracking boomed, Obama ended a 40-year ban on crude oil exports. In Europe, LNG was touted both as an alternative to coal and as strategic competition with Russian pipelines.</p><p>That much, at least, continued with President Trump. Under Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the agency referred to liquified U.S. hydrocarbons as "<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/us/freedom-gas-energy-department.html" target="_blank">freedom gas</a>."</p><p>Mr. Trump has also championed the interests of coal, oil, and gas while denigrating the findings of government climate scientists. He rejected the Paris accord as unfair to the U.S. and detrimental to its economy, but has offered no alternative path to emissions cuts. </p><p>Still, Trump's foreign policy has not always served the LNG industry: Tariffs on foreign steel drove up pipeline costs, and a trade war with China stayed the hand of Chinese LNG importers wary of reliance on U.S. suppliers. </p><p>Even his regulatory rollbacks could be a double-edged sword. By relaxing curbs last month on methane leaks, the U.S. has ceded ground to European regulators who are drafting emissions standards that LNG producers are watching closely. "That's a precursor of fights that will be fought in all the rest of the developed world," says Mr. Hutchison. </p><p>Indeed, some oil-and-gas exporters had urged the Trump administration not to abandon the tougher rules, since they undercut their claim to offer a cleaner-burning way of producing heat and electricity. "U.S. LNG is not going to be able to compete in a world that's focused on methane emissions and intensity," says Erin Blanton, a senior research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. </p>
Stepping on the Gas<p>In July, the Department of Energy issued an export license to Jordan Cove's developer, Canada's Pembina Pipeline Corp. In a statement, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said the project would provide "reliable, affordable, and cleaner-burning natural gas to our allies around the world."</p><p>As a West Coast terminal, Jordan Cove offers a faster route to Asia where its capacity of 7.8 million tons of LNG a year could serve to heat more than 15 million homes. At its peak, its construction would also create 6,000 jobs, the company says, in a stagnant corner of Oregon.</p><p>But the project still lacks multiple local and state permits, and its biggest asset – a Pacific port – has become its biggest handicap, says Ms. Blanton. "They are putting infrastructure in a state where there's no political support for the pipeline or the terminal, unlike in Louisiana or Texas," she says. </p><p>Ms. Brown, the environmental lawyer, says she wants to see Jordan Cove buried, not just mothballed until natural gas prices recover. But she knows that it's only one among many LNG projects and that others will likely get built, even if Biden is elected in November, despite growing evidence of the harm caused by methane emissions. </p>
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