The world's food systems are responsible for 34% of all greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of 18 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015, according to a pioneering new study published in Nature Food.
The findings have been released in what is being called the 'first global food emission inventory', a database known as 'EDGAR FOOD', which incorporates key land-use data for over 245 countries.
The report was co-authored by Francesco Tubiello, a senior statistician and climate change specialist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with researchers at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy.
The database was designed to assist towards more sustainable food systems in the future, and to provide detailed information on the impact of food production and distribution ahead of the UN Food Systems Summitlater this year.
While the results prove that there has been a reduction in emissions since 1990, there are still key emitters highlighted both up to and beyond the farm gate, including agriculture, methane, packaging, and refrigeration.
Here are Some of the Key Findings:
Roughly two-thirds (32%) of food system emissions come from agriculture, land use and changes in land use (it was 44 percent in 1990).
Methane from livestock raising and rice cultivation accounts for 35 per cent of food system greenhouse gas emissions and is broadly the same in both developed and developing countries.
Packaging now contributes about 5.4 percent of global food-system emissions, more than any other supply-chain factor including transportation.
Refrigeration is responsible for nearly half of the energy consumption by the retail and supermarket sector, whose emissions have grown more than fourfold in Europe since 1990. Worldwide 'cold chain' activities account for around 5 percent of global food-system emissions, a figure expected to increase.
Top emitters are, in order: China, Indonesia, United States of America, Brazil, European Union and India.
On average, global per capita annual food-related emissions declined from 1990 to 2015 by around one third to 2 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
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