War in Ukraine is triggering a food crisis – and climate change has more in store

(Climate Home News, 22 Apr 2022) Russia’s war on Ukraine has thrust food security to the top of the global agenda. Now, the world’s leading climate scientists have piled on a stark warning: Unless we act fast, climate change all but ensures that food crises will become the norm and not the exception.

The combination of acute shocks to global food systems and a warming climate make for a terrifying and explosive combination. We are seeing the consequences play out right now, as the war in Ukraine will almost certainly trigger a global food crisis with catastrophic consequences for the most vulnerable.

Ukraine and Russia are both agricultural powerhouses, and together account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley exports. 45 African and least developed countries import at least a third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia, and 18 of those countries import more than half. If the war drags on, countries like Egypt could face food shortages as soon as this summer, triggering what the UN secretary general has warned could become “a hurricane of hunger and a meltdown of the global food system”.

Then there’s climate change. One of the most alarming findings in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent series of reports is that the climate crisis will increasingly undermine food security and nutrition around the world. The IPCC’s report on climate impacts confirmed that extreme climate events like floods, droughts, and storms have already exposed millions to acute food insecurity and malnutrition.