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.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a special report reviewing the impacts of climate change on the oceans and cryosphere (ice gaps, glaciers and frozen ground), incorporating evidence that has been published since the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. It finds that climate change has shrunk ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice as well as heated permafrost (ground that normally remains frozen all year).
This paper models the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and water footprints of both baseline consumption patterns and nine different healthy diets that prioritise plant ingredients for 140 countries. The authors find large differences in GHG and water footprints between countries, with vegan, two-thirds vegan or “low food chain” (including insects, molluscs and forage fish) diets generally leading to the greatest footprint reductions.
This report sets out the plans of the UK’s NFU (National Farmers Union) to make emissions from agriculture in England and Wales net zero by 2040. It calls for collaboration between farmers, government and NGOs to reduce emissions through improved production efficiency, carbon capture through land management, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
In August 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a special report on climate change and land, covering a variety of interlinked topics including desertification, land degradation, food security, water scarcity, negative emissions, and policy options for both adaptation and mitigation.
The World Resources Institute has released its full and final report on “Creating a sustainable food future”. The report addresses the question “Can we feed the world without destroying the planet?”, specifically asking whether the food system can feed nearly 10 billion people adequately by 2050, without expanding the area of agricultural land, and while avoiding dangerous levels of climate change.
This report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC) sets out the UK’s current progress towards its climate goals. It finds that, since June 2018, the UK government has only delivered 1 out of 25 essential policies needed to cut emissions and only 7 out of 24 progress indicators are on track.
This paper maps the potential for restoring forests across the world, finding that there is room for a 25% increase in forested area without interfering with existing forests or urban and cropland areas. This could store 205 Gt of carbon after several decades (for comparison, current emissions from fossil fuels and cement production are roughly 10 Gt of carbon each year).
This report from UK charity Rewilding Britain argues that rewilding peatlands, heathland, native woodlands, saltmarshes, wetlands and coastal waters in the UK could sequester carbon and also produce other benefits such as flood mitigation, enhanced biodiversity and water quality improvement.
In this research note, the US-based Open Philanthropy Project discusses whether animal welfare might be helped or hindered by climate-focused reductions in meat consumption. For example, the note points out that meat types with a relatively low carbon footprint (e.g. chicken) are often from smaller animals (compared to, say, cows) and thus require more animals to be farmed and killed.
This modelling paper finds that strategies to mitigate climate change could put an additional 160 million people at risk of hunger by 2050, if they are not designed carefully. However, these trade-offs could be avoided at a cost of around 0.2% of GDP in 2050.
New Zealand has introduced a new bill that aims to bring emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050. A separate target has been set for methane emissions from agriculture, with planned cuts of 10% by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.
The UK Parliament has endorsed a motion to declare a climate and environment emergency, in response to the 2019 Extinction Rebellion protests and calls from the Labour opposition. The motion, which is not legally binding, follows declarations of a climate emergency by the Welsh Government, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and several cities across the UK.
This report from the UK’s Committee on Climate Change sets out how the UK can reach net zero emissions by 2050 using existing technologies. It notes that current policies do not do enough to meet existing climate targets, and calls for “clear, stable and well-designed policies” to be introduced across the economy without delay. If replicated across the world, the plan would give a greater than 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
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.
This report from the Animal Law and Policy Programme at Harvard Law School estimates the carbon sequestration potential of converting UK land currently used for animal agriculture into native forest. The remaining cropland is enough to provide more than the recommended calories and protein for all UK residents, according to the authors.
Schools strike climate activist Greta Thunberg, along with several scientists, authors and campaigners, has called for “natural climate solutions” to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss simultaneously.