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Publication | 11 March 2021

Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions

We have developed a new global food emissions database (EDGAR-FOOD) estimating greenhouse gas (GHG; CO2, CH4, N2O, fluorinated gases) emissions for the years 1990–2015, building on the Emissions Database of Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR), complemented with land use/land-use change emissions from the FAOSTAT emissions database. EDGAR-FOOD provides a complete and consistent database in time and space of GHG emissions from the global food system, from production to consumption, including processing, transport and packaging. It responds to the lack of detailed data for many countries by providing sectoral contributions to food-system emissions that are essential for the design of effective mitigation actions. In 2015, food-system emissions amounted to 18 Gt CO2 equivalent per year globally, representing 34% of total GHG emissions. The largest contribution came from agriculture and land use/land-use change activities (71%), with the remaining were from supply chain activities: retail, transport, consumption, fuel production, waste management, industrial processes and packaging. Temporal trends and regional contributions of GHG emissions from the food system are also discussed.

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