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Mitigating Climate Change by Reducing Food Waste

April 21, 2016

According to a recent study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), reducing global food waste would help curb emissions of earth-warming gases.

This in turn would lessen some of the effects of climate change such as increased instances of extreme weather and rising seas.

The study showed that up to 14% of emissions from agriculture in 2050 could be avoided by managing food use and distribution better.

“Agriculture is a major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20% of overall global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010,” said co-author Prajal Pradhan.

“Avoiding food loss and waste would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change.”

Currently, between 30 – 40% produced globally is never consumed, either because it is spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or it is thrown away by shops and consumers. This number is expected to rise considerably if emerging economies such as China and India adopt western food habits, including eating more meat.

The researchers found that while global average food demand per person remains almost constant, food availability has rapidly increased over the last five decades, which has drastically increased the emissions related to growing surplus food by more than 300%.

In January of this year, a global campaign was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, to halve the amount of food wasted during transportation.

The abstract of the article is available here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b05088.