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.

15 October 2020

This report from Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock, a UK alliance of livestock researchers, quantifies emissions from UK livestock production and assesses what it would take for the sector to align with the UK’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

15 October 2020

This paper finds that a global shift to vegan diets by 2050 could allow sequestration of 332–547 GtCO2 - equivalent to or greater than the remaining emissions budget for having a 66% of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. Meat reductions in line with the EAT-Lancet Commission’s recommendations could also lead to significant carbon sequestration.

23 September 2020

The FCRN’s Tara Garnett took part in a webinar titled “Do we need to stop eating meat and dairy to tackle climate change?” organised by Carbon Brief. The panel also included Prof Pete Smith of the University of Aberdeen, Dr Helen Harwatt of Chatham House and Dr Modi Mwatsama of the Wellcome Trust. The webinar covered the climate impacts of different food types, carbon sequestration through restoration of native vegetation, health impacts of animal products and the cultural and economic factors influencing dietary patterns. 

23 September 2020

US retailer Walmart, the world’s largest company by revenue, has announced a goal to become a “regenerative company”. Specific targets include protecting, managing or restoring at least 50 million acres of land (which is equivalent to around 2% of the United States’ land area) and one million square miles of ocean (<1% of the global ocean area) by 2030, and achieving net zero emissions by 2040. The net zero target appears to cover only Walmart’s direct emissions, not food and product supply chain emissions.

23 September 2020

In this report, UK food waste NGO Feedback critically assesses the narrative that anaerobic digestion (AD) is a viable solution for producing renewable gas from organic matter such as crops and wastes. The report argues that preventing food waste in the first place is more effective than generating biogas from waste food, particularly if trees were to be planted on the land spared.

23 September 2020

This paper reports that reforesting areas of land in the UK currently used for sheep grazing could be an economically viable strategy for farmers, using payments for carbon sequestration from people or businesses who want to offset their emissions The paper argues that sheep farming in the UK is not profitable without subsidies, which currently account for over 90% of sheep farm income. 

9 September 2020

This report from WWF, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), EAT and Climate Focus finds that by integrating food system interventions into their climate plans, policymakers can improve their chances of meeting their Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the Paris Agreement.

26 August 2020

This article argues that “super low carbon cows” (cows that emit lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cows with the help of breeding, technology or livestock management practices) can be thought of as a form of geoengineering. The author argues that the promise of “super low carbon cows” is being used by some corporations to position business as part of the solution to climate change, while neglecting to address factors such as lifestyle and market structures.

26 August 2020

This paper addresses recent concerns about RCP8.5, a climate scenario developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based on an assumption of high levels of fossil fuel use. A recent commentary argues that RCP8.5 was originally intended to explore an unlikely future with no climate mitigation, but that it is now commonly referred to as a “business as usual” scenario by the media. In response, this paper argues that RCP8.5 is indeed a good match for current and stated climate policies up until 2050.

21 July 2020

This progress report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change assesses progress in reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions over the past year and makes recommendations on how to ensure the post-COVID-19 recovery is green and resilient. It includes discussions of agriculture, diets and land-use change.

14 July 2020

FCRN member David Cleveland uses the University of California as a case study and finds that integrating climate and food policies could contribute substantially to reducing institutional greenhouse gas emissions by accounting for Scope 3 emissions (which would include emissions from food purchased by the institution).

9 June 2020

The Global Alliance for the Future of Food held the Salzburg Process on the Climate Emergency and the Future of Food in May 2020. In this blog post, Ruth Richardson (Executive Director of the Global Alliance) reflects on lessons learned from holding the event virtually because of COVID-19, rather than physically as originally planned.

9 June 2020

The interim report of the UK think tank Institute for Public Policy Research’s Environmental Justice Commission sets out a vision for the transformation of society and the economy. It argues that it is essential to put people at the heart of solving the climate and nature crises.

19 May 2020

This blog post John Lynch of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People programme asks whether we can keep farming cows and sheep without dangerously warming the planet. He points out that it is possible to maintain stable temperatures without eliminating methane emissions entirely (in contrast to CO2 where emissions have to fall to net zero to tackle climate change). However, ruminant methane emissions are currently increasing. Furthermore, ruminants use a lot of land, some of which could be used for other purposes that might sequester more carbon.

7 April 2020

This blog post by John Lynch of the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People programme explains how GWP* can be used to describe the warming effect of both short- and long-lived greenhouse gases, particularly when applied to livestock.

7 April 2020

This paper uses several simple emissions scenarios to illustrate how GWP* (as opposed to GWP100) can report the warming created by both short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). 

31 March 2020

This book by Sarah Bridle provides an accessible outline of the links between climate change and food: both the climate impacts of producing food, and the impacts of climate change on farming.

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