Knowledge for better food systems

Cutting the climate impact of land use

This report from the UK think tank Green Alliance sets out how the UK could bring its land use emissions to net zero. The actions proposed include ecosystem restoration, planting new areas of woodland, capturing carbon in soils, and reducing demand for meat and dairy.

The report suggests that the UK’s upcoming departure from the European Union presents an opportunity to introduce policies to support rapid decarbonisation of land use. More specifically, the report recommends:

  1. Supporting low carbon practices among farmers and land managers, including investing in low carbon farming, promoting afforestation, and banning practices that damage peat.
  2. Encourage demand for low-carbon food, namely promoting a “less and better” approach to meat consumption and encouraging a shift towards plant-based foods.
  3. Invest in developing relevant tools, including spatial mapping of the climate mitigation potential of land, metrics for food production, and an emissions accounting system.

Read the full report, Cutting the climate impact of land use, here (PDF link). See also the Foodsource chapter How can we reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions?

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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