Reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas, scientists said on April 7, 2016.
Up to 14% of emissions from agriculture in 2050 could be avoided by managing food abuse and distribution better, according to a study from the Potsdam Research Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “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 emissions and help mitigate climate change.”
Between 30 and 40% of food produced around the world is never eaten, because it is spoiled after harvest and during transpor- jjeat ;s on ; As world’s population tation, or thrown away grows, emissions associated with by shops and consu- food waste could soar from 0-5 giga- mers. tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent
The share of food Per year to 2-5 gigatonnes annually wasted is expected to by mid-century, increase drastically if emerging economies adopt Western food habits, including a shift to eating more meat, the researchers warned. Richer countries tend to consume more food than is healthy or simply waste it, they noted.
As poorer countries develop and the world’s population grows, emissions associated with food waste could soar from 0-5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to between 1-9 and 2-5 gigatonnes annually by midcentury, showed the study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.
It is widely argued that cutting food waste and distributing the world’s surplus food where it is needed could help tackle hunger in places that do not have enough especially given that land to expand farming is limited.
But Jurgen Kropp, another of the study’s co-authors and PIK’s head of climate change and development, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the potential for food waste curbs to reduce emissions should be given more attention.
“It is not a strategy of governments at the moment,” he said.