‘Reduce food waste, mitigate climate change’

Friday 08 April 2016

Researchers have estimated that food waste-related emissions may increase from 0.5 gigatonnes today to 1.9-2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year by 2050


                    Reducing food waste could help mitigate the impact of agriculture on global climate, save resources and ensure food security (Photo: Jitendra)
Reducing food waste could help mitigate the impact of agriculture on global climate, save resources and ensure food security (Photo: Jitendra)

Reducing food losses and wastage can help reduce the contribution of agriculture to greenhouse gas emissions and consequently, mitigate climate change to some extent, a new study has shown.

Researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany, claim to have estimated comprehensive food losses for countries and their associated emissions to conclude that a tenth of overall greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture could be traced back to food waste by mid-century.

“Agriculture is a major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20 per cent of overall global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010. Avoiding food loss and waste would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change,” Prajal Pradhan, co-author of the research “Food surplus and its climate burdens”, explained in an official press release.  

The study took into account body types and food requirements based on possible demographic changes, food demand and availability as well as associated emissions. It found that richer countries “consume more food than is healthy or simply waste it” and estimated that food waste-related emissions may increase from 0.5 gigatonnes today to 1.9-2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents per year by 2050.

The researchers cautioned growing economies like China and India against following in the footsteps of developed nations which tend to have greater food availability but also large food wastages.  

Reducing food waste could help address more than one future challenge. In addition to mitigating the impact of agriculture on global climate, it would also help save resources and ensure food security.

“It is quite astounding that up to 14 per cent of overall agricultural emissions in 2050 could easily be avoided by a better management of food utilisation and distribution. Changing individual behavior could be one key towards mitigating the climate crisis,” Pradhan added.

Move from news to views and get in-depth reports on issues that matter to you, every fortnight.
Subscribe now »

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

Scroll To Top