Climate activists are becoming more and more invested in the idea of a green, sustainable future by means of remodelling our food systems.

World leaders have recognised the potential of plant-based diets as a cornerstone of resilient and sustainable food systems, which continues to steer the future of industry at every level. In a move to evolve global “farm to fork” eco-efficiency, the UN Environment Programme and other climate actors are now pushing forward the agenda of meat-free diets while further outlining that reductions of food loss and waste could reduce emissions by up to 4.5 Gt of CO2 emissions per year.

“This crisis offers us a chance to radically rethink how we produce and consume food. For example, reorienting consumption by halving food waste and catalysing a shift toward more plant-rich diets, is also a powerful climate mitigation tool to take advantage of. It is up to us to seize this opportunity and put sustainable food systems at the heart of the green recovery,” says Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

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Improving production methods and reducing methane emissions from livestock, could reduce emissions by up to 1.44 Gt CO2e per year, the UN reports.

Gunhild Stordalen, the Founder and Executive Chair of EAT – a cooperating non-profit organisation that works toward catalysing a global food system transformation – added that fixing food systems goes beyond supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. “Shifting to regenerative, carbon-absorbing production and adoption of healthy, predominantly plant-based diets that are affordable and accessible, as well as halving food waste and loss, are crucial actions that must be included in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)and integrated into their climate action plans with clear ambitions,” she asserts.

The international body previously detailed that a third of all food produced is either lost or wasted, which accounts for 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Improving production methods and reducing methane emissions from livestock, could further reduce emissions by up to 1.44 Gt CO2e per year, the UN reports. “As we enter the ‘Decade of Action,’ let’s make it the decade of delivery for a healthy, sustainable and equitable food future for all,” urges Stordalen.

Planet-forward diets

The UN underscores that much greater reductions in CO2 emissions could be achieved by shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets with a higher proportion of plant-based than animal-based foods. This effectively could help industry avoid emissions of up to 8 Gt CO2e each year. However, it stresses that no current national climate plans explicitly discuss more sustainable diets.

“Eliminating excessive meat consumption, improving storage facilities and reducing food waste is good for our health and improves food security,” says Charlotte Streck, Co-Founder and Director of Climate Focus, a think tank that provides advice on international climate policy to public and private actors across the globe.

“With a check-list and concrete examples of activities and targets, this report provides guidance for policymakers to integrate food systems in their national climate strategies.”

Improvements by as much as 25 percent 

Currently, diets and food loss and waste are widely ignored in national climate plans, but by adding them, policymakers can improve their mitigation and adaptation contributions from food systems, by as much as 25 percent, details UNEP.

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Food systems account for up to 37 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to UN reports.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, every five years, countries are expected to revise or resubmit their NDCs – steps that they will take to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The year, therefore, presents policymakers with the opportunity to adopt food systems solutions and set more ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, in turn, improve biodiversity, food security and public health.

Food: more than a third of emissions

Food systems – which gather all 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 according to UN reports, offering plenty of space to improve.

Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF-International, called on governments to include climate and nature positive food systems approaches in revised and more ambitious NDC submitted in 2020.

“Without action on how we produce and consume food, we cannot achieve our climate or biodiversity goals, which are the foundation to achieve food security, prevent the emergence of diseases and ultimately deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

Original source: https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com