Emissions from food consumption on the brink of global warming

Food consumption is an important source emissions greenhouse gases (GHG), and assessing their future warming impact is essential to guide climate change mitigation actions.

Research estimates that emissions from the food system alone will push the world above 1.5C of global warming. Which highlights the need to further address the issue of consumption and production of foods with high methane content, such as dairy products and meat.

However, researchers say more than 55% of expected warming can be avoided by simultaneous improvements in production practices, universal adoption of healthy diets and reductions in food waste at the consumer and retailer level.

Food supply chains

Food is both an essential aspect of life and the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. He agricultural sector It is responsible for almost half of methane (CH4) emissions, two-thirds of nitrogen oxide (N2O) emissions and 3% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activities worldwide.

Carbon dioxide is emitted throughout the food supply chain due to the energy use of agricultural machinery and product transport. Previous studies have shown a significant impact of food production on the environment, especially meat and dairy products.

However, this could be a significant underestimate, as the research assumed that consumption of animal products will remain stable in the future, but is projected to increase by 70% by 2050.

A high percentage of this warming is fueled by foods that are a large source of methane, such as meat, dairy products and rice.

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Food with more shows

Methane is mainly emitted from animal products and rice production through enteric fermentation, manure management and methanogenesis of paddy rice.

He nitrogen oxide It can hold more than 250 times more heat than mass CO2, lasts for about a century, and is emitted by the use of synthetic fertilizers, the cultivation of nitrogen-fixing crops and the excretion of ruminants on lawns.

Indeed, methane plays a dominant role in driving the warming associated with food systems. Maintaining the current pattern is inconsistent with maintaining the temperature threshold of 1.5 C. Therefore, reducing emissions, especially from food groups with high methane content, is urgent.

The researchers also considered changes in dietary habits by analyzing the potential avoided warming associated with the universal adoption of a healthier diet.

Ultimately, they show that if these dietary changes were implemented worldwide, heating due to food consumption could decrease by 0.19°C by the end of the century, consistent with previous literature highlighting the potential for dietary recommendations to provide environmental and health benefits.

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