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.

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.

Image: DEZALB, India market fruit, Pixabay, Pixabay license
29 May 2019

This modelling paper finds that strategies to mitigate climate change could put an additional 160 million people at risk of hunger by 2050, if they are not designed carefully. However, these trade-offs could be avoided at a cost of around 0.2% of GDP in 2050.

Image: David Blaikie, New Zealand Cattle, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
13 May 2019

New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.

8 May 2019

The UK Parliament has endorsed a motion to declare a climate and environment emergency, in response to the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests and calls from the Labour opposition. The motion, which is not legally binding, follows declarations of a climate emergency by the Welsh Government, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and several cities across the UK.

8 May 2019

This report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change sets out how the UK can reach net zero emissions by 2050 using existing technologies. It notes that current policies do not do enough to meet existing climate targets, and calls for “clear, stable and well-designed policies” to be introduced across the economy without delay. If replicated across the world, the plan would give a greater than 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

29 April 2019

This report from the UK think tank Green Alliance sets out how the UK could bring its land use emissions to net zero. The actions proposed include ecosystem restoration, planting new areas of woodland, capturing carbon in soils, and reducing demand for meat and dairy.

16 April 2019

This report from the Animal Law and Policy Programme at Harvard Law School estimates the carbon sequestration potential of converting UK land currently used for animal agriculture into native forest. The remaining cropland is enough to provide more than the recommended calories and protein for all UK residents, according to the authors.

Image: Alasdair MacDonald, Wet peat land, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
8 April 2019

Schools strike climate activist Greta Thunberg, along with several scientists, authors and campaigners, has called for “natural climate solutions” to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously.

13 March 2019

This book by Mike Berners-Lee aims to provide a big-picture overview of how to solve the many environmental issues the world is facing now, including both systemic and personal paths of action. It is aimed at a wide audience including both policymakers and the general public. Chapter 2 is about food.

Image: Phil Manker, Swirling fish schools, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2019

This paper models the impacts that the Paris Agreement on climate change would have on seafood production. It finds that three quarters of maritime countries would benefit from the Agreement’s implementation.

Image: Neil Palmer (CIAT), 2DU Kenya 92, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
4 March 2019

Climate mitigation policies rarely account for the time lags associated with land-based greenhouse gas mitigation policies such as reforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or reduction of agricultural emissions, argues this paper, making it unlikely that commitments under the Paris Agreement will be met.

11 February 2019

This report outlines the outcomes of the 4 per 1000 Africa Symposium on Soils for Food Security and Climate, which discussed the links between soil health and climate in Africa.

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