“The global food system contributes up to a third of our total greenhouse gas emissions and needs to change,” Christian Aid’s Global Climate Lead, Dr Katherine Kramer, has said.
“It is crazy that malnourishment is a problem even for over-consumers in rich countries, often through lack of fruit and vegetables and over consumption of meat, while people in poor countries continue to suffer from a lack of available food. All the while climate change accelerates the problem. A new and healthy balance for all is needed, for people and for planet.
“Today’s report is a clarion call for the need for us to manage land better for people, nature and the climate. There are many opportunities to create win-wins in the ways we use the land, but it’s vital we implement these quickly to avoid having to make bleak choices between feeding people and reducing emissions.
“Ecosystem conservation and restoration not only have carbon storage and removal benefits but also promotes access to sustainable sources of timber, food, feed and fibers for those that rely on natural resources for their lives and livelihoods.”
The agricultural and food sectors are a challenge for the climate. The global food system, including agriculture and associated greenhouse gas emissions from storage, transport, packaging, processing, retail, and food preparation total 22-35% of all human-caused emissions, and may grow as much as 30-40% by 2050 unless there are interventions to make production and consumption more sustainable.
Since 1961, global food calories consumption per person has increased by about one third, while the per capita consumption of meat and vegetable oils has more than doubled. But this has come through increasing obesity for some, while continued under- and mal-nourishment for many.
The need for dietary changes – for the health of all and for the sake of the climate – is highlighted in the report.
Dr Kramer added: “No one should be in any doubt that the land sector alone cannot be a silver bullet: the IPCC’s report on limiting warming to 1.5C demonstrated the need for rapid emissions reductions across all sectors, especially the energy sector. The need to end the fossil era as soon as possible remains as clear as ever. It’s just that we need land to be part of the solution as well.”
Christian Aid recently launched the Climate & Food Vulnerability Index, that showed the injustice of the climate crisis with world’s top ten hungriest countries generating only 0.08% of global CO2 emissions.
Burundi topped the ranking as the most food insecure and also the smallest contributor of carbon dioxide per capita. In fact the report showed the average South African generates the same CO2 as 305 Burundians.