Global ag, food systems can readily reduce GHGs, groups say

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 30, 2014 -- Two environmental consulting groups released a report they say offers a path to reducing the amount of carbon emissions from the global agriculture and food systems by up to 90 percent - the equivalent of removing all of the cars in the world   by 2030.

Together we can feed the Bees"

Climate Focus, a global firm that focuses on policies and projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and California Environmental Associates, a broad-ranging environmental consulting group, say their report, Strategies for Mitigating Climate Change in Agriculture: Recommendations for Philanthropy, highlights twelve key strategies that can deliver big climate wins while maintaining food security and building resilience.

Citing steps such as reduced global beef consumption and food waste, and better farm nutrient management and production, the authors say their report "dispels the notion that productivity and sustainability can't work hand in hand."

The report follows the release earlier this month of reports from two Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) work groups, one that offers an alarming assessment of the rate of ongoing changes in climate brought about by increasing global temperatures, and the other offering a number of mitigation measures.

The authors say that overall, the largest impact on global emissions can be made in Brazil, China, the European Union, India and the United States. The report, which includes some unpublished data in its review of literature on agriculture and climate change, cites a number of widely aired remediation measures applicable to farm nutrient and management practices, including more precise applications of fertilizer, less-intrusive low- and no-till practices that sequester more carbon in the soil, and anaerobic digestion of livestock manure to produce biogas and electricity.

The authors also emphasize a “fundamental yet under-emphasized role that consumption plays in fueling food-related emissions.” The report estimates that changing diets and reducing food waste in key countries could cut more than three gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

The report says approximately one third of all food intended for human consumption is lost or wasted in production, handling and storage, processing and packaging, distribution and market, and consumption. Food loss happens before it reaches the consumer through spoilage, spilling or other unintended consequences due to limitations in ag infrastructure, storage and packaging.

“Simplistically calculated, cutting current food wastage levels in half has the potential to close the 70-percent gap of food needed to meet 2050 demand by roughly 22 percent, potentially making the reduction of food wastage a leading strategy in achieving global food security,” states the report, adding that China and the United States appear to provide the largest opportunities for GHG mitigation from consumption practices.

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