Climate action on food systems can cut back 20% of global emissions by 2050

New Delhi (NVI): The improved climate action on sustainable food systems can deliver 20 per cent of global emissions reductions needed by 2050, said a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), WWF.

According to the report, actions on diets, food loss and waste to national climate plans could reduce global greenhouse emissions by an extra 12.5 Gt CO2e annually the equivalent of taking 2.7 billion cars off the road.

The report found that countries are missing significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and identifies 16 ways policymakers could take more action, from farm to fork.

UNEP called on countries to shift to healthier and more sustainable diets with a higher proportion of plant-based than animal-based foods to avoid emissions. Addressing land-use change and conversion of natural habitats could also reduce emissions by 4.6 Gt CO 2 e per year, it added.

Other areas of focus include reducing food losses and wastage, which account for 8 eor cent of all GHG emissions, and improving production methods and reducing methane emissions from livestock.

“Currently, diets and food losses and wastage are largely ignored, but by adding them to national climate plans, policy makers can improve their contributions to mitigation and adaptation of food systems by up to 25 per cent,” the UNEP said in a statement.

Indeed, food systems, which include all components and activities related to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, account for up to 37 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, it added.

Under the 2015 Paris Accord, countries should revise or resubmit their NSCs every five years.

This year, therefore policy makers have the opportunity to adopt solutions for food systems and set more ambitious targets and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby improve biodiversity, food security and public health.

Marco Lambertini, Director General WWF-International said, “Ambitious, time-bound and measurable commitments to food systems transformation are needed if we are to achieve a 1.5oC future. Failing to do so is ignoring one of the main drivers of today’s climate crisis.”

According to Lambertini, without action on how to produce and consume food, the world cannot achieve climate or bio-diversity goals, which are the foundation to achieve food security, prevent the emergence of diseases and ultimately deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“That’s why we urge governments to include climate and nature positive food systems approaches in revised and more ambitious NDCs submitted this year,” he added.

Inger Anderson Executive Director of UNEP during a virtual launch of a report on enhanced food systems co-authored by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International said, “The pandemic has exposed the fragility of our food supply systems, from complex value chains to impacts on our ecosystems.”

Anderson called for re-orienting consumption by halving food waste and catalysing a shift towards more plant-rich diets as a powerful climate mitigation tool to take advantage of.

In 2021, in the context of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties (COP 15), world leaders can agree to a new deal for nature and people, to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, report added.

-RJV