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Food and climate change
Our food system is a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. The figures are startling.
- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has calculated that, globally, agriculture generates 30% of total man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, including half of methane emissions and more than half of the emissions of nitrous oxide.
- In the EU, over 30% of the greenhouse gases from consumer purchases come from the food and drink sector.
- Latest conservative estimates from the Food Climate Research Network in the UK suggest that almost one-fifth of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions are associated with our food and drink.
A study jointly commissioned by the Greater London Authority and London Development Agency in 2007 found that greenhouse gas emissions associated with London's food system equated to 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (and equivalent - from methane and nitrous oxide). This compares with figures from GLA climate change action plan to:
- 22.3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from London's aviation;
- 3 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from London's industry sector;
- 14.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from London's public and private sectors.
Whilst growing more of our own food will not solve these emissions, it can help. Some of the energy intensive greenhouse gas emission 'hotspots' in the food system are around refrigerated unseasonal perishable produce, especially airfreighted produce and food grown in heated glasshouses. Capital Growth will encourage local seasonal food with minimal storage, glasshouse and transport needs.
In addition, by growing more of our own food, and supporting local farmers, we can help make our food system less dependent on oil. This is important to make our food system more secure, and less vulnerable to increases in oil prices and other global pressures.