Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Conscious choice of food can substantially mitigate climate change, research finds

Date:
June 29, 2010
Source:
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
Summary:
Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products and improving agricultural practices could decrease global greenhouse gas emissions substantially. By 2055 the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture could be cut by more than eighty percent, researchers have found in a new modeling study.

Reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products and improving agricultural practices could decrease global greenhouse gas emissions substantially. By 2055 the emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture could be cut by more than eighty percent, researchers of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research find.

Related Articles


The results of the modelling study have recently been published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

"Meat and milk really matter," says Alexander Popp of PIK. "Reduced consumption could decrease the future emissions of nitrous oxide and methane from agriculture to levels below those of 1995," explains the first author of the study. In the past, agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly methane and nitrous oxide, have increased steadily. In 2005 they accounted for 14 percent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. "Besides the conscious choice of food on the consumers' side there are technical mitigation options on the producers' side to reduce emissions significantly," says Popp.

The researchers used a global land use model to assess the impact of future changes in food consumption and diet shifts, but also of technological mitigation options on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions up to 2055. The global model combines information on population, income, food demand, and production costs with spatially explicit environmental data on potential crop yields.

The calculations show that global agricultural non-carbon dioxide (non-CO2) emissions increase significantly until 2055 if food energy consumption and diet preferences remain constant at the level of 1995. Taking into account changing dietary preferences towards higher value foods, like meat and milk, associated with higher income, emissions will rise even more. In contrast, reducing the demand for livestock products by 25 percent each decade from 2015 to 2055, leads to lower non-CO2 emissions even compared to 1995.

Furthermore, there are technological mitigation options to decrease emissions significantly. However, these technological mitigation options are not as effective as changes in food consumption. The highest reduction potential could be achieved by a combination of both approaches, the researchers report. Compared to a scenario that takes population growth and an increase in the demand for livestock products into account, emissions of methane and nitrous oxide could be cut by 84 percent in 2055.

However, livestock products are very valuable for nutrition as they contributed globally an average of one third of protein to dietary intakes in 2003. For many poor and undernourished people in the developing world who frequently suffer from protein deficiencies livestock products are important parts of food consumption. In contrast, less meat-oriented diets in the developed regions would have positive health effects, the authors note.

Agricultural, non-carbon dioxide non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions consist mainly of methane and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is about 300 and methane about 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Agricultural emissions originate from the use of synthetic fertilizers on croplands and from flooded rice fields. Because animal products require large amounts of fodder crops, livestock production is connected to higher emissions from fertilizer application. Additional livestock emissions occur due to manure excretion, management and application and methane producing microbes in ruminants' digestive systems.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alexander Popp, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Benjamin Bodirsky. Food consumption, diet shifts and associated non-CO2 greenhouse gases from agricultural production. Global Environmental Change, 2010; 20 (3): 451 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2010.02.001

Cite This Page:

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Conscious choice of food can substantially mitigate climate change, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628075744.htm>.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). (2010, June 29). Conscious choice of food can substantially mitigate climate change, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628075744.htm
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). "Conscious choice of food can substantially mitigate climate change, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100628075744.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Husky Puppy Plays With Ferret

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) It looks like this 2-month-old Husky puppy and the family ferret are going to be the best of friends. Look at how much fun they&apos;re having together! Credit to &apos;Vira&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins