The production and consumption of food is generating serious consequences on the planet. Our food system has caused 80% of deforestation and 70% of biodiversity loss in terrestrial ecosystems. However, 4 out of 10 foods produced in the world are never consumed.
Added to this situation is the fact that global food consumption alone could add almost 1°C to global warming by the year 2100, due to high greenhouse gas emissions, according to research recently published in the journal.
The study explains that during the food production process there are different activities that are contributing to the emission of these gases. For example, CO2 is emitted mainly from the production of animal products and rice. The energy required by the machinery for growing and transporting food generates carbon dioxide.
Agriculture is currently responsible for about 15% of current warming levels. In addition, the research indicates that 75% of the increase in temperature is driven by foods that are high sources of methane, that is, meats, dairy products and rice.
What is most worrying about this situation is that only a third of the countries refer to agricultural mitigation measures in their national contributions to the Paris Agreement, which seeks to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature rise this century to 2°C, and even try hard enough so that the increase is no more than 1.5°C.
“Mitigating emissions from the food sector is essential to working towards a secure climate future,” the study’s lead author, Catherine Ivanovich, a doctoral student at Columbia University in New York, told AFP.
According to the study, 55 percent of projected warming “can be avoided through simultaneous improvements in production practices, universal adoption of a healthy diet, and reduced food waste at the consumer and retail level.”
Adopting a diet that is optimal for human health worldwide, using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels for energy, and reducing food waste would reduce this trend by 25%.
The researchers point out that while the study results should already raise red flags, further research is needed on this topic because it will provide guidance for different governments and authorities to increase their climate change mitigation efforts.
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