Knowledge for better food systems

UNEP synthesis report outlines pathways to reduce CO2e

Timed to coincide with the UN climate convention negotiations in South Africa, this study by UNEP argues that the world has the technological and economic solutions to avert climate change.

The report, entitled ‘Bridging the Emissions Gap’, is the second of three being released by UNEP in advance of the Durban convention.  It examines the scientific evidence on the gap between the pledges that countries have made to cut their GHG emissions and what will be needed to achieve the 2-degree target by 2020 and suggests that the gap can be bridged by making realistic changes in the energy system, in particular the accelerated uptake of renewable energies. 

It specifically identified the potential for reducing global emissions in 2020 in the agricultural sector.  With the use of technically feasible measures, the report suggests a reduction potential of 1.1 to 4.3 GtCO2 per year through changes in cropland and livestock management. 

The report concludes that policymakers could narrow or close the emissions gap in 2020 by:

  • Agreeing to implement their more ambitious emissions reduction pledges with stricter rules for complying with these pledges;
  • Deciding to target their energy systems, using more non-fossil fuel and renewable energy sources, and making significant improvements in energy efficiency; and
  • Putting in place strong, long-term, sector-specific polices to achieve the full emissions potential of the different economic sectors.

You can access the report here.

The first report in the series, titled ‘The Emissions Gap Report’, can be downloaded here.


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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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