Future food consumption and climate change - are dietary shifts required?
Conference contribution, 2010
The FAO predicts a major increase in global animal food consumption to 2050. In this paper we investigate the climate effect of such a dietary shift. At present, food is responsible for 25-30% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast to the energy sector, the main way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food production seems to be through general productivity improvements, rather than from specific technological and agronomic mitigation measures. In this paper we estimate the resulting methane and nitrous oxide emissions from global agriculture in 2050, in two scenarios, one with moderate productivity improvement and one with rapid productivity improvements. We compare the emissions to emissions levels compatible with the climate target of keeping the global average warming below 2 degree above the pre-industrial level. Our results suggest that under some circumstances dietary shift will be required to meet a 2 degree target.