Chapter 6 in the latest UNEP Emissions Gap Report highlights the key issues holding back reduced emissions and the potential solutions and barriers to food systems transformation.
Food systems are major contributors not only to climate change, but also to land-use change and biodiversity loss, depletion of freshwater resources, and pollution of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Adopting a food systems lens implies a cross-sectoral approach that explicitly connects supply and demand sides, and all actors of the food supply chain. It facilitates identifying synergies and trade-offs across interconnected environmental, health and economic dimensions, but the inclusion of several sectors makes computation of emissions more difficult, and increases risks of double counting.
Food systems, which account for one third of all emissions, can be reformed to deliver rapid and lasting cuts. Focus areas for food systems include demand-side dietary changes (including tackling food waste), protection of natural ecosystems, improvements in food production at the farm level and decarbonization of food supply chains. Transformations in the four areas can reduce 2050 food systems emissions to around a third of current levels; as opposed to emissions almost doubling if current practices remain in place. Governments can facilitate transformation by reforming subsidies and tax schemes. The private sector can reduce food loss and waste, use renewable energy and develop novel foods that cut down carbon emissions. Individual citizens can change their lifestyles to consume food for environmental sustainability and carbon reduction
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