Policymakers can improve the chances of achieving climate goals and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by making more specific commitments to transforming national food systems, says UNEP.
Countries are missing significant opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and there are 16 ways policymakers could take more action, from farm to fork.
These are the findings of Enhancing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Food Systems, a new report published by WWF, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), EAT and Climate Focus.
Currently, diets and food loss and waste are widely ignored, but by adding them to national climate plans, policymakers can improve their mitigation and adaptation contributions from food systems, by as much as 25 percent.
Food systems – which gather all the elements and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food – account for up to 37 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions; continuing on a business-as-usual trajectory will single-handedly exhaust the 1.5oC compatible emissions budgets for all sectors, explains a statement.
Although 89 percent of NDCs mention agriculture production, agriculture emissions reduction targets are mainly included in wider land-use targets. More notably, other actions in the food system, such as reducing food loss and waste, or shifting to more sustainable diets, are widely ignored, despite presenting the combined opportunity to reduce emissions by as much as 12.5 Gt CO2e – the equivalent of taking 2.7 billion cars off the road.
“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,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General WWF-International.
The 16 actions identified in the report include reducing land-use change and conversion of natural habitats, which could reduce emissions by 4.6 Gt CO2e per year. Comparably, reducing food loss and waste, which accounts for 8 percent of all GHG emissions, could reduce emissions by 4.5 Gt CO2e per year.
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