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Climate change could push 122 million more people into poverty: UN

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Aline Ranaivoson | AFP | Getty Images

The number of people living in poverty could rise by as much as 122 million thanks to climate change, according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The report, "The State of Food and Agriculture 2016," states that while climate change "is but one driver of poverty and food insecurity," its effect was set to be significant in the years to come.

The global population living in poverty had the potential to rise "by between 35 and 122 million by 2030 relative to a future without climate change," the report found, citing a study from the World Bank. Sub-Saharan Africa would be hardest hit due to the fact its population is more dependent on agriculture, the report added.

"There is no doubt climate change affects food security," José Graziano da Silva, director general of the FAO, said in a statement. "What climate change does is to bring back uncertainties from the time we were all hunter gatherers. We cannot assure any more that we will have the harvest we have planted."

The report added that farming and food systems needed to change and adapt to a warmer world, with smallholders in particular requiring urgent help to cope with climate change.

With changes in temperature affecting crop yield, and with it food prices, the use of heat-tolerant and nitrogen-efficient crop varieties and "integrated soil fertility management" could help supply, boost productivity and improve the income of farmers, the FAO said.

It is not just the UN that regards climate change as a threat to food supplies. In August a report from Australia-based The Climate Institute said that climate change could dramatically impact the quality, price and production of coffee.

Extreme weather events and rising temperatures could slash areas where coffee can be grown by as much as 50 percent by 2050, the report said.

Earlier this year Andrea Illy, chairman of global coffee business illy, told CNBC at Davos that climate change was a threat to coffee production in the medium and long term.

"Coffee is one of the crops which is severely affected by climate change, which is a threat both in terms of too high temperature in some regions when it is produced, (and) a threat in terms of water security – either droughts or excessive rains – in certain other regions," Illy said.

Illy went on to explain that while climate change looks set to impact production, consumption was still growing.

"We predict that we will need twice as much as coffee at least – more probably three times as much – by the end of the century, with less than 50 percent of the land available. I think we have a problem we need to fix."