Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: GHG impacts and mitigation

16 October 2018

US-based consulting firm Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions has created a list of recent papers, reports, conferences, media items, jobs and other resources on the topics of soil health and soil carbon sequestration.

16 October 2018

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released a special report on keeping climate change to 1.5°C. The report says, “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

Image: JD Hancock, Apple Earth, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
16 October 2018

A combination of measures including a shift towards plant-based diets, halving food waste and technological changes in agriculture (such as more efficient fertiliser application, feed additives and changes in irrigation) could significantly reduce the food system’s environmental impacts relative to 2050 projections and potentially even reduce impacts below today’s levels, according to a new paper.

Image: Vieve Forward, Tractor spreading fertilizer(?) near Down Barn, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
2 October 2018

The cost-effectiveness of different methods of cutting agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is often calculated using marginal abatement cost curves (MACCs). FCRN member Dominic Moran of the University of Edinburgh has quantified the uncertainties in calculating MACCs for Scottish agricultural mitigation options, including improving land drainage, improving the timing of nitrogen application, and using controlled release fertilisers. The paper suggests that policymakers may wish to exclude options that have a high uncertainty, as they may not always be as cost-effective as the MACC suggests.

25 September 2018

This book, by Leonard Rusinamhodzi, describes the concept of ecosystems services, shows how to identify and quantify ecosystems services in the context of sustainable food systems, and examines the challenges of maintaining ecosystems services in the face of climate change.

Image: trf57, Sheep New Zealand, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
12 September 2018

New Zealand’s Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has released a report exploring how much and over what timescale the climate is affected by methane emissions from livestock. It focused on two questions. First,if methane emissions from livestock were held at current levels or followed business-as-usual trajectories, what would their contribution to future warming be? Second, what reduction in methane emissions from livestock would be needed so that they cause no additional contribution to warming?

Image: C.G. Newhall, Pyroclastic flows at Mayon Volcano, Philippines, 1984, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
20 August 2018

A recent paper uses data from volcanic eruptions to estimate the effects that geoengineering with sulphate aerosols would have on agricultural production. It concludes that the damage that geoengineering would do to maize, soy, rice and wheat outputs (because of reduction in sunlight reaching the crops) would have roughly the same magnitude as the benefits of the cooling it would provide.

Image: Pxhere, Flower city meal, CC0 Public Domain
20 August 2018

A carbon tax applied across the whole economy, including agriculture, could put more people at risk of hunger (in terms of dietary energy availability) than climate change itself, according to a recent paper.

Image: Pixabay, Dominoes barricade, CC0 Creative Commons
20 August 2018

Researchers have warned that a cascade of positive feedback loops could push global temperatures into a “Hothouse Earth” state for millennia, even if human greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Some systems, such as ice sheets, forests and permafrost, could pass a temperature tipping point beyond which they rapidly become net contributors to climate change. If one is set off, the warming produced could trigger the remaining tipping points, like a line of dominoes.

Image: ales_kartal, Harvest harvester tractor, Pixabay, CC0 Creative Commons
31 July 2018

Farmers in Britain and other European countries have been affected by the ongoing heatwave and dry weather. Oxfordshire farmer Lesley Chandler told the Guardian, “It’s like a tinderbox out here… Just a spark could set it all alight” (read more here). Combine harvesters can create sparks if their blades hit a stone.

31 July 2018

The FAO has released a report on the current state of knowledge on how climate change will affect fisheries and aquaculture, including mitigation and adaptation options. The report finds that “climate change will lead to significant changes in the availability and trade of fish products”. Marine catches could decrease by 2050 in the tropics and rise in some high latitude regions, with a global decrease in Exclusive Economic Zones of 3% to 12%. Inland fisheries in Pakistan, Iraq, Morocco and Spain may come under greater stress, while those in Myanmar, Cambodia, the Congo, the Central African Republic and Colombia may remain under low stress in the future.

Image: Arkansas Highways, I-530 mirage, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
31 July 2018

Researchers from the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (of which the FCRN is part) have created a new tool - the “temperature of equivalence” - to map the impacts of varying degrees of climate change in different areas. They find that people living in low-income countries will, on average, experience heat extremes at 1.5°C of (global average) warming that people living high-income countries will not encounter until 3°C. This result is based on combining a map of predicted heat extremes with information on where people actually live within these areas. The paper also finds that, on average, people in high-income countries would experience the same increase in extreme rainfall after 1.0°C of warming that people in low-income countries would experience at 1.5°C of warming.

Image: Balaram Mahalder, Maize, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
24 July 2018

As global mean temperature rises due to climate change, the chance of multiple shocks in maize production occurring at the same time rises, due to greater variability in yields. The top four maize-producing countries are United States, China, Brazil, and Argentina. The chance of all four suffering a yield loss of more than 10% in the same year is presently almost zero, but rises to 6% for 2°C of warming and 87% for 4°C of warming. The study does not account for changing variability in temperature (only the increase in mean temperature), nor any gains from breeding heat-tolerant maize varieties.

17 July 2018

The Centre for Ecoliteracy, a Californian non-profit, has produced a free interactive guide to understanding food and climate change, covering both how climate change affects the food system and how the food system contributes to climate change.

Image: Lamiot, Coppice short rotation willow, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
10 July 2018

In a guest post for Carbon Brief, Professor Pete Smith of the University of Aberdeen discusses recent research on how climate mitigation through negative emissions could affect biodiversity, through changes in land use. He argues that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) should be implemented sooner rather than later, because of the risk of not meeting climate mitigation targets if BECCS is left until later in the century and because a study estimated that natural land loss could be lower if BECCS is deployed earlier in the century.

Image: Tobias Akerboom, Complaining cow, Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
10 July 2018

A paper proposes a new method for evaluating the climate impact of short-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as methane. Different GHGs are currently assessed on the basis of global warming potential (GWP), calculated as carbon dioxide equivalent, usually over a 100 year time horizon. The paper authors say that this misrepresents the impact of short-lived GHGs, because they have stronger climate impacts shortly after being released and lower impacts after being in the atmosphere for some time.

Image: Tony Atkin, Path Through Miscanthus, Geograph, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic
26 June 2018

The Hoffmann Centre at UK think tank Chatham House has produced a summary of a workshop held in January 2018 on policy implications of widespread deployment of negative emissions technologies. The workshop concluded that bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) cannot be used at the scale assumed in emissions pathways compliant with the Paris agreement, because it would cause large land use change in regions of high biodiversity and compete with food production for land. Nevertheless, some BECCS may be needed. Direct air capture would use less land than BECCS, but there are economic and technical barriers.​

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