Monday, September 20
09:09 AM

Food drives a third of global emissions: report

9 Mar 2021 By AFP

A third of all the world’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions are linked to food, according to new global research that tracked produce from field to fork to landfill.

Land clearing and deforestation, fertiliser use, livestock and waste all contribute to the emissions from the system to feed Earth’s 7.7 billion people.

While numerous reports have looked to quantify the climate footprint of food, the authors of the latest research led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre said theirs is the first to encapsulate all countries and sectors — from production, packaging and distribution to disposal of food waste.

“Food systems are in need of transformation,” the researchers told AFP, adding that they hoped the database would help identify where actions to reduce emissions would be most effective.

The report, published in the journal Nature Food on Monday, draws on a new global database that provides estimates of food system greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2015.

During that period it notes a “decoupling of population growth and food-related emissions”, with emissions growing slower than the population. 

But it found wide variations across the world, with some countries and regions seeing large increases in emissions driven by both domestic demand and exports.  

“Our results corroborate previous findings of a significant share of food system emissions,” the researchers said. 

The estimated range of 25 to 42 percent was higher than the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) figure of 21 to 37 percent, partly due to a more expansive view of the global food system.

The new calculations, for example, take into account things like cooking as part of consumption, as well as waste disposal.   

Land clearing and deforestation, fertiliser use, livestock and waste all contribute to the emissions from the system to feed Earth’s 7.7 billion people.

While numerous reports have looked to quantify the climate footprint of food, the authors of the latest research led by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre said theirs is the first to encapsulate all countries and sectors — from production, packaging and distribution to disposal of food waste.

“Food systems are in need of transformation,” the researchers told AFP, adding that they hoped the database would help identify where actions to reduce emissions would be most effective.

The report, published in the journal Nature Food on Monday, draws on a new global database that provides estimates of food system greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 to 2015.

During that period it notes a “decoupling of population growth and food-related emissions”, with emissions growing slower than the population. 

But it found wide variations across the world, with some countries and regions seeing large increases in emissions driven by both domestic demand and exports.  

“Our results corroborate previous findings of a significant share of food system emissions,” the researchers said. 

The estimated range of 25 to 42 percent was higher than the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) figure of 21 to 37 percent, partly due to a more expansive view of the global food system.

The new calculations, for example, take into account things like cooking as part of consumption, as well as waste disposal.   

© 2021 Apex Press and Publishing. All Rights Reserved.