Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Climate change: Mitigation

Climate mitigation mitigation involves actions aimed at limiting the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This may consist in reducing anthropogenic emissions or by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks. Food systems contribute some 20-30% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts will need to be addressed if substantial global climate change mitigation is to be achieved. In agriculture, management and breeding methods for mitigation of climate change are being developed for all regions. However, not only technological change, but also changes in demand (away from emission intensive foods such as meat and dairy), and in enabling socio-economic structures and the governance framework will influence the amount of GHGs emitted in the future. In the food system, there is scope to develop new practices which deliver multiple win-wins – for example, that function both as climate change adaptation and as mitigation strategies (e.g. climate resilient crops that also bind more carbon in the soil) or that deliver non environmental benefits – for example where shifts to lower environmental impact diets also improve nutritional wellbeing.

Photo: Feral Arts, “Little River Landcare Group - Machinery Conversion Field Day”, Flickr, Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic.
19 July 2017

This OECD Food, Agriculture and Fisheries report employs a meta-analysis/literature review approach to identify and analyse barriers to the adoption of “climate-friendly” policies in agriculture; that is, the adoption of measures to enhance the adaptation of farming to the impacts of climate change, and the mitigation of its contributions to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It should be noted that the report does not go into specifics about what constitutes a climate-friendly practice: this is taken to be an understood concept and the focus of the report is on the barriers to adoption of these measures, not the measures themselves.

13 July 2017

Recognising that changing what people eat can make a major contribution to the environmental performance of the food system, the new and updated Livewell Plates in this report illustrate the minimal dietary changes required to reach the 2 °C climate target. The report presents simple steps – such as eating more plants, legumes and grains –  that could help cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

Photo: United Soybean Board, Soil, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
13 July 2017

In this short perspective piece, researchers from the Netherlands, USA and the UK critically assess the COP21 4 per 1000 initiative, which seeks to increase global yearly agricultural soil organic carbon sequestration by 4‰ (= 0.4%, or 1.2 billion tonnes). The authors argue that as soil organic matter (SOM) also contains nitrogen (N), with a C-to-N ratio always approaching 12, this will require the sequestration of an extra 100 million tonnes of N per year, and they question the feasibility of achieving this. 

Photo: Alpha, “Plate #1” Flickr, creative commons licence 2.0
1 June 2017

This paper highlights the lack of inclusion of food consumption in the climate change policy debate. It presents an analysis of how changing from beef to beans could help achieve GHG reduction targets in the US. 

Photo: Joshua Mayer, Forest, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
1 June 2017

This paper takes countries’ mitigation targets (Intended National Determined Contributions, or INDCs), submitted since the Paris Climate agreement, and, using supplementary information from other official documents, quantifies how much of the promised actions are related to Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF, primarily deforestation and forest management). 

1 June 2017

This paper by researchers in Germany explores the scalability of managed woody and herbaceous bioenergy plantations (BP) for terrestrial capture of atmospheric carbon. The researchers make simulations to quantitatively explore how much land area could be made available globally for this terrestrial carbon dioxide removal (tCDR) strategy. 

26 May 2017

Ahead of the third UK election in as many years (8th June 2017), Carbon Brief is tracking the climate change and energy content of parties’ manifestos. The site allows you to navigate around to explore the parties’ climate and energy plans and compare this year’s promises with what the parties said before the last election via a publicly-accessible spreadsheet, which covers both 2015 and 2017.

8 May 2017

What is the latest science on soil's ability to pull carbon pollution out of the atmosphere? Breakthrough Strategies hosted a webinar on April 24 on the Technical Potential of Soil Carbon Sequestration. It featured three of the world’s leading experts on strategies for drawing carbon pollution out of the atmosphere and storing it in soils: Keith Paustian, Jean-François Soussana, and Eric Toensmeier.

8 May 2017

This report on organic agriculture and climate change was commissioned by the IFOAM-EU Group and researched and written by FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture). It highlights organic agriculture’s potential to mitigate and adapt to climate change and underlines the importance of adopting a systemic approach - one which encompasses consumption - to reducing all the environmental impacts of agriculture.

Photo: Gralbeard, TomatoesRootSystem1-SouthGardenBed, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This research brings together data from 389 field trials to determine how the root and shoot biomass, and carbon (C) stocks of major crops correlate to soil C in different environmental conditions. The analysis found all crops allocated more C to their shoots than roots. The greatest C allocation to roots was in grasses (which also had the highest plant biomass production).

Photo: StormSignal, H2O + CO2 = LIFE, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This paper, published in the journal Science, aims to establish a detailed “roadmap” for meeting the Paris climate goal. It provides not only a scenario for the CO2 emissions reductions needed but places attention on the many different policy actions needed to stay below 2°C warming. One of three main focus areas is agriculture and land use related emissions.

Photo: Yoshihide Nomura, Fried vegetables, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
25 April 2017

This comment article in The Lancet Planetary Health emphasises that food systems research, addressing sustainability and human health, needs to combine three factors equally to inform comprehensive improvement strategies. 

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