Climate change

Research Series 72: Climate change and food system activities – a review of emission trends, climate impacts and the effects of dietary change

This article reviews how food system activities contribute to climate change and how dietary changes affect food systems. It shows that while emissions from food production are increasing in most regions, emissions from land use change are decreasing. Despite these trends, land use emissions remain huge and are greater than emissions from food production in some regions.

While there is strong scientific consensus that climate change negatively affects food production, current scientific evidence is unclear about the impacts of climate change on post-production activities. This article also shows that dietary change has large potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite its potential, the costs and feasibility of dietary change are not well understood and require further research.

Strategies to reduce emissions should focus on further reducing land use change as the current rate of reduction is inadequate to achieve a targeted reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Strategies must also address meat consumption in regions where it consumption is excessive.