Food alone could warm the climate by nearly 1°C by 2100
A herd of cows in a snowy field in Manitoba
The food system alone could warm the climate by almost 1°C by 2100 but this scenario is not inevitable because a healthier diet and other measures could curb the effects, according to a study published on Monday.
A continuation of current dietary patterns around the world by the end of the century could add around 1°C of additional warming, concludes a group of US-based researchers, in a study published by the journal Nature climate change.
The authors propose a range of 0.7 to 0.9°C of warming, with a margin of 0.2°C, depending on the population growth scenarios.
While the planet has already warmed by almost 1.2°C compared to the end of the 19th century, the food system alone leads to above-target warming in any case the most ambitious of the Paris Agreement (1.5°C).
Most of this warming is caused by foods that are major sources of methane: meat from ruminants like beef and mutton that belch out this potent greenhouse gas, as well as dairy products or rice.
Other sources come from CO2 and nitrous oxide. x27;nitrogen (N2O), the latter being emitted in particular during the use of synthetic fertilizers.
The researchers reached these conclusions based on an inventory of 94 foods, with more precise modeling of the effect of these different greenhouse gases.
“These results show that the urgency to mitigate emissions from the food sector is essential to working towards a secure climate future.
—Catherine Ivanovich of Columbia University, one of the study's authors
However, the future is not written: more than 55% of this warming can be avoided by improving agricultural production practices, reducing waste and adopting a healthy diet, the authors point out.
For this last point, they based themselves on medical recommendations in favor of a reduction in the consumption of meat – especially red meat – in favor of other proteins containing less saturated fats and cholesterol.