Knowledge for better food systems

Scientists call for livestock reduction to meet climate targets

FCRN member Helen Harwatt has co-authored a letter calling for high- and middle-income countries to incorporate four commitments on livestock, emissions and land use into their commitments for meeting the emissions reductions of the Paris Agreement.

The four measures are:

  1. Declare an intended timeframe for livestock production from each species to peak and begin to fall.
  2. Identify and mitigate the largest emissions and land use hotspots within the livestock sector.
  3. Replace some livestock production with foods that maximise both environmental and health benefits, namely pulses, grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
  4. Repurpose grazing land that is no longer required as a carbon sink, by restoring native vegetation cover.



Harwatt, H., Ripple, W.J., Chaudhary, A., Betts, M.G. and Hayek, M.N., 2020. Scientists call for renewed Paris pledges to transform agriculture. The Lancet Planetary Health, 4(1), pp.e9-e10.

Read the full paper here. People are able to add their own signature to the call here. See also the Foodsource resource Which diets generate fewer GHG emissions and other environmental impacts? 

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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