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Humanity biting the hand that feeds it says IPCC

15 August 2019

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) special report, released last week, repeats scientist’s warnings of the effects of accelerating climate change.  Along with climate change related risks such as heatwaves, extreme storms, and sea level rise, the experts also warn of the causes that a changing climate has on our ability to provide food for a growing population.

But farming is simultanously a victim and a culprit of climate change, because the way we use land is large contributer to the problem. Practices under criticism include deforestation, industrial agriculture, and draining of carbon-capturing peatlands. All the while, extreme heat, storms and soil erosion – all consequences of a changing climate – put agricultural land at risk.

A first step to tackle the issue, according to the report, is to reduce meat and animal product consumption. Animal farming, say the scientists, contributes in large part to the issue of degrading soils and increased CO2 emissions. Producing animal feed requires agricultural land, which often leads to deforestation in intensive farming practices; animal manure is used to over fertilize soils with runoffs into rivers and seas where algae bloom, and animals themselves are a source of the highly potent climate gas methane.

Changing diets is as key as it is difficult. But public canteens can opt to offer more balanced diets that reduce the amount of meat, turning it from default to exception. A school in the Belgian city of Ottignies has shown how this can be done in collaboration with parents, eliminating food waste at the same time. The canteen operators studied the way the children consumed their food and developed meal plans that eliminate waste and increase the amount of plant based protein. This way, the canteen was able to reduce food waste from 20% of food offered to 10%.

If you want to learn more about public procurement’s option in reducing overall meat consumption, have a look at our resource centre.

Find the full report here.