Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Climate change: Mitigation

Climate mitigation mitigation involves actions aimed at limiting the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This may consist in reducing anthropogenic emissions or by increasing the capacity of carbon sinks. Food systems contribute some 20-30% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and their impacts will need to be addressed if substantial global climate change mitigation is to be achieved. In agriculture, management and breeding methods for mitigation of climate change are being developed for all regions. However, not only technological change, but also changes in demand (away from emission intensive foods such as meat and dairy), and in enabling socio-economic structures and the governance framework will influence the amount of GHGs emitted in the future. In the food system, there is scope to develop new practices which deliver multiple win-wins – for example, that function both as climate change adaptation and as mitigation strategies (e.g. climate resilient crops that also bind more carbon in the soil) or that deliver non environmental benefits – for example where shifts to lower environmental impact diets also improve nutritional wellbeing.

7 April 2020

This blog post by John Lynch of the Oxford Livestock, Environment and People programme explains how GWP* can be used to describe the warming effect of both short- and long-lived greenhouse gases, particularly when applied to livestock.

7 April 2020

This paper uses several simple emissions scenarios to illustrate how GWP* (as opposed to GWP100) can report the warming created by both short-lived greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). 

31 March 2020

This book by Sarah Bridle provides an accessible outline of the links between climate change and food: both the climate impacts of producing food, and the impacts of climate change on farming.

31 March 2020

This report, commissioned by the UK charity Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, assesses a selection of measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. It looks at their potential impacts on biodiversity, climate and resource protection to identify which solutions offer synergy between climate and nature, and where there is a risk of conflict.

31 March 2020

This paper reviews the evidence base around using soil organic carbon as a climate change mitigation measure. It notes that such climate solutions encompass both increasing soil carbon in soils that have not reached their maximum possible carbon content, and conserving carbon in soils that already have a high carbon content (thus avoiding losses that might otherwise have taken place).

24 March 2020

This piece in the UK’s Independent newspaper, by several researchers from the University of Oxford, sets out five questions that (they argue) should be considered by any policymaker or business setting a “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions target.

16 March 2020

Our World in Data has published this piece, which breaks down the extent to which the differences in carbon footprints of food categories can be attributed to methane, a short-lived greenhouse gas which has attracted controversy over how its climate impact is measured. 

16 March 2020

This e-book from the international climate nonprofit Project Drawdown reviews the world’s options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The top solutions related to food and land (see section 1.2 of the book) are reducing food waste, shifting to plant-rich diets, protecting ecosystems such as peatland and forests, and shifting agricultural practices (e.g. improving rice production).

10 March 2020

This paper sets out how far different sources of methane (both agricultural and non-agricultural) can be reduced by 2050, via technical changes. It argues that since methane accounts for about 40% of the warming effect of all greenhouse gases in the short term (because of its high Global Warming Potential but short atmospheric lifetime), reducing methane emissions is therefore useful for mitigating climate change between now and 2050.

24 February 2020

This explainer from Carbon Brief outlines nine interlinked “tipping points” where climate warming could trigger an abrupt change. They include disintegration of ice sheets, changes in ocean circulation, thawing of permafrost, and dieback of ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs.

24 February 2020

This report from the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development draws on the experiences of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico and New Zealand to examine how land use policy can be aligned with climate, biodiversity and food objectives.

18 February 2020

This blog post by Shefali Sharma of the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy says that agriculture and the people whose livelihoods depend on it must be core considerations in international climate negotiations. Sharma argues that proposed solutions such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and carbon credits simply allow existing industries to continue increasing their emissions.

18 February 2020

The University of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project has published a new series of blog posts exploring controversies in the food system. The series aims to explore and clarify areas where evidence is unclear.

18 February 2020

FCRN member ffinlo Costain has published a response to the paper Climate change: ‘no get out of jail free card’ (summarised on the FCRN website here). Costain argues that biological methane emissions - such as those from grazing livestock - can be “warming neutral” as long as they fall by 10% by 2050. Citing Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen, Costain argues that sharply cutting ruminant numbers would only deliver a warming reduction of 0.1ºC at most, which would be outweighed within a few years by continuing carbon dioxide emissions.

10 February 2020

In this debate piece, authors Pete Smith and Andrew Balmford argue that the recent development of the GWP* method of measuring the climate impact of short-lived greenhouse gases (notably methane), as opposed to the conventional GWP method, should not be used as an excuse to avoid reducing methane emissions. Read more about the differences between GWP* and GWP in the article New way to evaluate short-lived greenhouse gas emissions.

28 January 2020

The UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has set out its policy recommendations on agriculture and land use, aiming to reduce the UK’s land-based emissions by 64% by 2050. The CCC estimates that its recommendations could produce £4 billion worth of benefits each year, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, recreational value of new woodland, better air quality and flood alleviation.

28 January 2020

This paper by FCRN member Jono Drew investigates whether healthy and climate-friendly diets might vary from global recommendations in the context of New Zealand (using food carbon footprints specific to New Zealand, where possible). It finds that shifting diets towards whole plant foods (such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains) and away from red and processed meat would have large health and climate benefits, consistent with recent global recommendations.

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