Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Environmental input-output analysis

Environmental input-output analysis is used to examine the material flows and structures in production and consumption within one or several economies (which can be a company or a country). As such it provides information about the supply and use of goods and services within the economy, and their environmental consequences. It belongs to the broader concept of ‘environmental accounting’ used to identify resource use and to measure and communicate the costs of a company's or a nation’s economic impact on the environment.

Photo: muffinn, Hallow – muck spreading, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 Generic.
29 March 2017

This review assesses the performance of organic cropping systems as an approach to sustainable agriculture, and seeks to identify the contextual considerations (such as type of cropping system) that may affect this performance. The scope of the review is constrained to the level of the farming system (i.e. excludes considerations of other components of the food system, such as packaging or transport). In order to provide an unbiased assessment of organic farming as a means of sustainable agriculture, rather than approaching the question from the usual “What does organic farming do well/badly?” angle, the authors ask “What constitutes successful sustainable agriculture?” then measure organic farming against this yardstick.

Credit: wellunwell, soft drinks, Flickr, Creative Commons Licence 2.0
11 October 2016

This study estimates the environmental impacts of what it terms discretionary foods - foods and drinks that do not provide nutrients that the body particularly needs. It finds that these foods account for 33-39% of food-related footprints in Australia.

9 June 2016

This report, Food Systems and Natural Resources”developed by the International Resource Panel (IRP) looks at the use and management of natural resources that go into the food system, the consequences of that management and the options to improve the efficiency with which they are managed. 

30 September 2015

Photo credit: Getty images

The German car giant Volkswagen has admitted that they have cheated in emissions tests in the US. Since 2009, Volkswagen has been installing elaborate software in 482,000 "clean diesel" vehicles sold in the US and according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these cars had devices in their diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The cars' pollution controls would then only work when being tested for emissions.

18 September 2015

We all know that the food system today is undermining the environment upon which future food production depends. But while we generally agree that we need do something to make food systems more sustainable, we do not necessarily agree about what, exactly, should be done. This paper explores these questions by considering how stakeholders think about efficiency in relation to animal production and consumption, both terrestrial and aquatic. It takes as its starting point three broadly discernible views. 

11 September 2015

This analysis from The Carbon Brief provides a useful summary of the Bonn Climate Talks in late August/early September 2015. Countries are said to have made progress on some key points and started to lay out the skeleton of the planned agreement. Still however, disagreement over many details remains profound. The meeting which closed on 4th September in Bonn in Germany, was the penultimate session of United Nations talks before the Paris climate conference this December, where countries are due to adopt a new global climate change agreement.

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12 June 2015

This article reports that a new fish and animal feedstock product which uses methane gas may be released into the European feedstock markets from the beginning of 2018. The product, FeedKind, is currently in pre-production phase and it is described that the manufacturing process is very similar to the way in which Marmite and other yeast-extract sandwich spreads are produced.

19 April 2015

This paper discusses urban farmers’ markets in relation to food accessibility, the type and variety of foods they offer and their price and quality. This US based study is the first to itemize farmers’ market products in an entire urban county—in this case the Bronx—and compare them with what is available in nearby stores. It finds that farmers’ markets located in urban areas may not contribute positively to nutrition or health.

23 March 2015

Due to the large share of non-CO2 GHGs in emissions from livestock production, the choice of GHG metric used to compare emissions of different GHGs is crucial, both in order to assess the aggregate contribution of the livestock sector to climate change and for highlighting hot-spots in the animal food chain where emission reductions can be most cost-effectively made.

12 February 2015

This paper investigates the environmental impact of the diets of Australian households at different income quintiles. The paper looked at 2003 household consumption and argues that income affects the environmental impacts of household diet, with higher income corresponding to higher impacts. The higher the income bracket the more was spent on food and this translated through to a higher environmental impact (GHG CO2e, water, waste, energy) at higher incomes.

2 May 2014

This study models two policies for increasing cattle ranching productivity in Brazil in order to analyse whether intensification of pasture-based cattle ranching would allow for rainforest protection and further enable Brazil to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and improve agricultural productivity.

19 December 2013

This interesting paper calculates the a. nitrogen footprint and b. nitrogen investment factor associated with the average production of 12 agricultural commodities in the EU – 6 plant and 6 livestock products (excluding fish and aquatic products).  The nitrogen footprint is defined as the total N losses to the atmosphere resulting from the production of a defined unit of food, while the N investment factor calculates the amount of N input needed to produce a specified amount of N in the food.   Since N is the building block of protein, the latter is a useful way of looking at the issue, particularly when it comes to considering the relative merits of plant (eg. pulses and legumes) versus animal sources of protein.

11 March 2013

A new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) describes methods for quantifying environmental pressures caused by European consumption patterns and economic production sectors, and shows the results from this approach.