Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Potential of Food Systems and Approach to Quantify Them
The food system today is facing triple challenges of feeding an increasing population, adapting to and mitigating climate change. Climate change impacts all components of food systems (production, delivery, and consumption) affecting all pillars of food security (food availability, access, utilization and stability). On the other hand, the current food system is the significant source (23-35%) of total anthropogenic GHG emission (IPCC, 2019). Recent evidence suggests that coordinated actions are required to improve land, enhance food security and nutrition and help to end hunger in the face of climate change. Action and investment in the sector have been constrained by the lack of policy-relevant and science-based methods of estimating GHG emission and quantifying mitigation potential that contribute to decision-making.
Here, we present the GHG mitigation potential of food systems at the global level and present a framework for a bottom-up approach to assess GHG emissions, identify mitigation options and quantify their mitigation potential from food systems. We believe that such analysis will set targets for food systems mitigation based on local agro-environmental conditions, the mitigation options best fitted for those conditions and stakeholder input. The framework’s distinguishing features include the use of minimal and readily available data yet scientific enough that helps countries to identify mitigation hotspots; and scientifically robust estimates of mitigation potential and cost. This will also help countries to compare their estimates with the level of ambition needed to meet the 2-degree target based on their NDCs. The bottom-up analysis is based on identification of jurisdictional zones and the feasibility of implementing mitigation options relevant to them. Such analysis will help countries to identify mitigation hotspots by geography and commodity and prioritize their investments according to their food security and environmental goals.
Tek Sapkota Leads the Climate Change Science group in CIMMYT and is a member of the Climate Investment Committee in OneCGIAR. His research interest includes analysis of production systems from food security-climate change nexus. He is involved in studying food-system management consequences in agro-ecological landscape and their effect on food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation. He has served in IPCC as Lead author as well as Review editor and is currently working as lead author for Global Environmental Outlook of UNEP. He is an associate Editor of “Nature Scientific Report” and “Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems” journals. He is an Agricultural expert in the "India GHG platform" (http://ghgplatform-india.org/). In MITIGATE+, he is the global science leader for data and evidence.