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.

Image: Rebecca Kahn, Broad Bean Seedlings, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
19 November 2019

This commentary argues that there is scientific consensus on the need to build soil organic carbon because of benefits such as resistance to soil erosion, higher fertility and resilience to drought. The authors note that these benefits of building soil carbon are being obscured by high-profile disagreements on the separate question of whether or not building soil carbon may help to mitigate climate change.

11 November 2019

According to this article from Civil Eats, several large food companies, including General Mills, Danone, Kellogg’s and Nestlé, plan to help farmers apply regenerative agricultural techniques to build organic matter in soils. The article questions whether the initiative will help to tackle climate change or only help the companies to sell more products.

29 October 2019

On 22 September 2019, the Food and Land Use Coalition hosted the event "Securing Our Future: People, Food and Nature Solving the Planetary Emergency", which set out how leadership and innovative partnerships can change food systems to promote livelihoods while protecting ecosystems and the climate.

Image: Nick Carson, Wetland restoration in Australia, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
29 October 2019

This review article finds that transforming the land sector (including agriculture, forestry, wetlands and bioenergy) could “feasibly and sustainably” contribute around one third of the emissions reductions needed to stay under 1.5°C of climate change. 

Image: Engin Akyurt, Stir fry noodles in bowl, Pexels, Pexels License
22 October 2019

In this opinion piece in the Guardian newspaper, Jess Fanzo and Mario Herrero argue that food producers, consumers and governments all need to make changes to help reduce the climate impact of the food system. 

22 October 2019

The book chapter Why sustainable plant-based diets are needed to reverse the food-climate-health-equity crisis by FCRN member David A Cleveland, part of the book Plant-based diets for succulence and sustainability, argues that plant-based diets are a key part of the response to the interlinked crises in food, climate, health and inequality.

22 October 2019

This report from UK NGO alliance Sustain aims to help policymakers at the city level understand the role of food, farming and land use in policies designed to respond to climate change and protect nature. 

2 October 2019

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a special report reviewing the impacts of climate change on the oceans and cryosphere (ice gaps, glaciers and frozen ground), incorporating evidence that has been published since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. It finds that climate change has shrunk ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice as well as heated permafrost (ground that normally remains frozen all year).

Image: DanaTentis, Sardine Pesce Fresco, Pixabay, Pixabay License
2 October 2019

This paper models the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water footprints of both baseline consumption patterns and nine different healthy diets that prioritise plant ingredients for 140 countries. The authors find large differences in GHG and water footprints between countries, with vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” (including insects, molluscs and forage fish) diets generally leading to the greatest footprint reductions.

18 September 2019

This report sets out the plans of the UK’s NFU (National Farmers Union) to make emissions from agriculture in England and Wales net zero by 2040. It calls for collaboration between farmers, government and NGOs to reduce emissions through improved production efficiency, carbon capture through land management, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

18 September 2019

In August 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report on climate change and land, covering a variety of interlinked topics including desertification, land degradation, food security, water scarcity, negative emissions, and policy options for both adaptation and mitigation.

22 July 2019

The World Resources Institute has released its full and final report on “Creating a sustainable food future”. The report addresses the question “Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?”, specifically asking whether the food system can feed nearly 10 billion people adequately by 2050, without expanding the area of agricultural land, and while avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.

16 July 2019

This report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) sets out the UK’s current progress towards its climate goals. It finds that, since June 2018, the UK government has only delivered 1 out of 25 essential policies needed to cut emissions and only 7 out of 24 progress indicators are on track.

Image: Comidacomafeto, Burger veggie vegetarian, Pixabay, Pixabay License
9 July 2019

This opinion piece in YES! Magazine, written by Stephanie Feldstein (population and sustainability director at the Centre for Biological Diversity), uses the case of plant-based burgers to explore the tensions between personal environmental actions, industry actions and systemic change.

Image: Max Pixel, Canopy spring beech, CC0 Public Domain
9 July 2019

This paper maps the potential for restoring forests across the world, finding that there is room for a 25% increase in forested area without interfering with existing forests or urban and cropland areas. This could store 205 Gt of carbon after several decades (for comparison, current emissions from fossil fuels and cement production are roughly 10 Gt of carbon each year).

11 June 2019

This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.

3 June 2019

In this research note, the US-based Open Philanthropy Project discusses whether animal welfare might be helped or hindered by climate-focused reductions in meat consumption. For example, the note points out that meat types with a relatively low carbon footprint (e.g. chicken) are often from smaller animals (compared to, say, cows) and thus require more animals to be farmed and killed.

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