From farm to table, combating climate change is actually possible. The IPCC special report "Climate Change and Land" reveals the key role of food waste in combating climate collapse.
When we think about combating climate change, we mainly focus on common issues: energy, transportation, and industry. However, we tend to forget one area that accounts for 10% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG): agriculture.
Agriculture accounts for about 40% of the land we use and consumes more than 60% of water. If we combine this with other issues surrounding our land overuse and pollution (such as deforestation, water pollution, desertification, loss of wildlife biodiversity, etc.), this will result in nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.
The land is already under increasing human pressure, and climate change is exacerbating these pressures. At the same time, only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, including land and food, can global warming be controlled far below 2ºC.
The impact of agriculture on climate change and the adverse impact of climate change on land are the scope of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Like all IPCC publications, this new report does not introduce new findings, but rather aggregates and evaluates existing research institutions. It collected opinions from 107 authors and reviewed more than 7,000 research articles. It not only emphasized the need to rethink the way we use land and the key role that food production plays in affecting the climate, but also emphasized a large number of Improvement opportunities that are largely unknown.
These opportunities include, but are not limited to, sustainable food production, improvement and sustainable forest management, soil organic carbon management, ecosystem protection and land restoration, reduction of deforestation and degradation, and reduction of food loss and waste. The IPCC report shows the importance of dealing with food waste, which is a key factor that helps avoid some of the most serious effects of climate change. In fact, since almost one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted, finding solutions to reduce this waste and making full use of the lost food can not only feed more people, but also save a lot of money. Water and land use, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because food waste accounts for 8% of the total greenhouse gas.
With the latest update of the European Commission’s Waste Framework Directive, the European Parliament and the European Council have established a new definition of food waste, that is, “any food and inedible parts of food that are removed and recycled from the food supply chain”. Or disposal. "
The figures speak for themselves: in the European Union, about 88 million tons of food are wasted every year, with an estimated value of 143 billion euros. In addition, EU countries recently agreed to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of reducing global food waste per capita by 50% by 2030. However, EU member states have not set specific reduction targets for themselves. For this reason, Zero Waste Europe compiled a set of key recommendations in February to help policymakers increase and reduce food waste by promoting a zero waste society (read our policy brief) and through new legislation, including: In terms of preventing food waste, promoting food donation strategies, and introducing methods for handling unsold or undonated food.
Fighting food waste cannot be an isolated policy. It needs to be part of the EU's comprehensive food policy, including all policy areas that affect the food system, focusing not only on consumption, but also on production, processing and retail. Therefore, at the beginning of June, Zero Waste Europe worked with 33 other major sports groups, agricultural organizations and think tanks to promote a common food policy, and called on the next European Commission president to formulate an EU food policy. The vice president of the European Commission will be responsible for ensuring sustainable development. Transition of the food system. (Read our open letter).
Therefore, reducing food waste and making it a priority means moving to better, fairer and more sustainable production and consumption methods. The IPCC report once again puts this issue within the focus of policymakers, but we need more than awareness. In order to make real changes on a large scale and truly reduce the level of food waste throughout the supply chain, everyone needs to be involved. We need new technologies to improve the efficiency of farm storage, infrastructure, transportation, packaging, and retail, but we also need to create innovative financing to incentivize new business models to promote unsustainable supply chain procurement and more food capillary education Waste prevention, but mainly we need the government to implement and enforce stricter regulations. Even individuals as consumers can play a role by reducing food waste, advocating for better policies, and supporting companies that are shifting to more sustainable production methods.
There is still time to limit the impact of climate change and prepare for the future. But we must now take action to establish an efficient and resilient food system to prevent and avoid food waste, while feeding the planet without affecting our climate.
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