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.

Image: Max Pixel, Agriculture Cows Cow, CC0 Public Domain
20 March 2019

In this paper, FCRN member Nicholas Bowles of the University of Melbourne reviews existing data on the environmental impacts of the livestock sector and considers these impacts in the context of planetary boundaries. The paper reports that efficiency alone is unlikely to be adequate to shrink livestock’s impacts to a sustainable level, and that dietary shifts will also be necessary.

Image: dany13, DSC00234/Brasil/Pantanal/ Cowboys Herding Zebu Cattle on Miranda, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
12 March 2019

This paper analyses how different agriculture and forestry activities affect biodiversity and carbon sequestration. In 2011, the top driver of losses to bird species richness was cattle production, while the greatest driver of losses to net carbon sequestration (relative to sequestration if natural vegetation were allowed to grow) was forestry.

26 February 2019

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has published its 2018 environmental progress report. FDF members report a 53% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in manufacturing operations since 1990, and a 39% reduction in water consumption since 2008.

3 December 2018

In this report, the Food Ethics Council analyses the 2018 Food Sustainability Index (view interactive graphics here), which ranked the UK 16th out of 28 European Union countries and 24th out of 67 countries when averaged across a range of food sustainability indicators.

Image: Pxhere, Organic beef, CC0 Public Domain
12 November 2018

In a paper by FCRN member Johan Karlsson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, researchers worked together with NGOs to iteratively develop a vision for the future of food production in the Nordic countries. The final vision is based on organic farming and lower meat consumption with livestock fed only on pasture and by-products from food production.

22 October 2018

The report “Transformation is feasible - How to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within Planetary Boundaries”, produced by the Stockholm Resilience Centre, identifies five measures to reach the most Sustainable Development Goals within the planetary boundaries.

8 October 2018

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations has published guidelines for the assessment of nutrient flows and their associated environmental impacts in livestock supply chains. The guidelines are aimed at people and organisations who already have a good working knowledge of life cycle assessment of livestock systems, and are intended to promote consistency through defining calculation methods and data requirements.

Image: Pxhere, Grass farm animal, CC0 Public Domain
2 October 2018

Relatively intensive, high-yield farming systems often have lower environmental impacts per unit of product, according to a new paper. The paper used a new framework to measure both land use and major environmental externalities (greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and nitrogen, phosphorus and soil losses) for several different farming systems.

Image: Foto-Rabe, Vegetables Mediterranean Herbs, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
18 September 2018

FCRN member Nicole Tichenor Blackstone of Tufts University has recently authored a paper that compares the environmental impacts of three healthy eating patterns recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The vegetarian eating pattern had lower impacts than the US-style and Mediterranean-style eating patterns in all six impact categories considered.

12 September 2018

This book, edited by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu, examines the development and implementation of a variety of indicators of sustainability for the food system.

Image: Žarko Šušnjar, Among the fields of wheat, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
12 September 2018

A new paper reviews the extent to which sustainable intensification has been achieved in England. It concludes that agricultural intensification drove environmental degradation during the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, yields became decoupled from fertiliser and pesticide use, meaning that some ecosystems services began to recover. The authors interpret their results as meaning that sustainable intensification has begun. Farmland biodiversity, however, has not recovered.

Image: Ian Sherlock, Fishing boat leaving, Canary Islands, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
31 July 2018

A new paper finds that the global marine fishing fleet produces greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 4% of the total emissions from global food production. The types of fisheries with the highest emissions intensity per unit of catch are those using motorised craft (vs. non-motorised), those harvesting for human consumption (vs. catches used for meal, oil or non-food uses), fishing for crustaceans (vs. other species types) and fisheries in China (vs. those in other regions).

Image: Bob Blaylock, Saccharomyces cerevisiae — baker's yeast, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
10 July 2018

A new paper has estimated the economic and environmental potential of feeding livestock with industrially-fermented microbes such as bacteria, yeast, fungi and algae instead of crop-based feed. The study finds that microbial protein could replace 10-19% of crop-based animal feed protein, with decreases in land use, climate impact and nitrogen pollution.

13 February 2018

No country meets basic needs for its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use, according to a study by researchers from the University of Leeds.

Photo: U.S. Department of Agriculture, How much do fruits and vegetables cost, Flickr, CC by 2.0
12 December 2017

This new study by FCRN member Paul Behrens and colleagues investigates the environmental impacts of a nationally recommended diet when compared to the national average diet for 37 nations across the world, including 9 middle income nations.

Photo: Fooding around, Fruit Walla New Delhi, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
30 October 2017

This paper by FCRN member Dana Boyer examines how policy interventions at the city scale can affect three environmental outcomes of food production: greenhouse gas emissions, water use and land use. It uses India’s capital city Delhi as a case study. It sets out to assess the magnitude of city-scale food system actions as compared to certain actions which can be taken beyond the city boundary.

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