Author(s): Bows, A.; Dawkins, E.; Gough, C.; Mander, S.; McLachlan, C.; Röder, M.; Thom, L.; Thornley, P., and Wood, R.
In: Report by the Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, UK
Link to SEI author(s):
What’s Cooking? Adaptation & Mitigation in the UK Food System
This report, based on a two-year study of UK food systems and climate change, finds that UK consumers could face dramatically reduced food choices in the future unless much more is done to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Should the current trends in emissions continue, global temperatures could rise by 4°C within the lifetime of many people, the authors warn. As the climate changed, the risk of crop failure would significantly increase, and staple food sources such as rice and wheat potentially being be devastated. Most meats would soar in price, becoming unaffordable to many people.
Globally, where non-carbon emissions such as those produced by agriculture make up around a quarter of total emissions – compared to around 10% in the UK – the picture is even more stark. Rice crops, for example, could be reduced by about 30% in the subcontinent in a ‘4°C’ world, leading to potential food shortages and hunger.
Only by reducing consumption of energy, food, goods and services can we have a good chance of minimising the harmful effects of global warming, the report warns.
However, even if families continue to take steps to lower their carbon emissions from energy use, the authors find, global farming emissions will continue to rise because of our growing appetite for energy-intensive foods and a rising demand to meet just basic living standards across the world. And while much attention has been paid to decarbonizing the energy system, the emissions associated with agriculture, particularly the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, are likely to be much more difficult to cut.
Download the report (external link to Sustainable Consumption Institute)