Adisa Azapagic unpacks the carbon footprint of her evening meal and reveals how you can too with a smartphone app.
You know the feeling – the end of a hard day at work, no time (and, in my case, no inclination) to cook. So you do what 30 per cent of Brits normally do: stop at a supermarket on your way home and buy a ready meal. Tonight I fancy lamb curry. Mmmm… looking forward to it!
But because of my research on environmental impacts of food, I know my lamb curry has the total carbon footprint from farm to plate of around 6 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.) per person*. It may be tasty and convenient, but by choosing and eating this curry I will have contributed to climate change, through the greenhouse gases emitted on its journey to my plate.
Continue reading Fancy a curry?
Nitrous oxide’s contribution to climate change is no laughing matter, says Keith Goulding.
Carbon dioxide is the most commonly recognised enemy in terms of its contribution to greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, and certainly the biggest culprit in terms of volume, but there are other gases, closely tied with food production, that are also major targets for reduction.
Farming is responsible for about 8% of the UK’s GHG emissions (up to about 19% when the road to consumption is included) but about 40% of its methane emissions, which mainly come from livestock, and 76% of its nitrous oxide emissions, which are mainly due to fertiliser use.
Continue reading Tackling agriculture’s greenhouse-gas emissions
We need to move toward more sustainable agriculture practices that use the best of all approaches – including organic, GM and non-GM biotechnology, says David Howlett.
In achieving global food security, agriculture is part of the problem and part of the solution to climate change.
While we need to better understand greenhouse-gas emissions from agriculture we do know they are significant. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that direct emissions are about 14% of global emissions (similar to those from transport) and emissions from deforestation are 17% of global emissions – but because farming is a major driver of deforestation the majority of these are due to agriculture.
Continue reading Combining tactics for triple wins in agriculture
Simple production changes could benefit farmers and the environment, says Philip Thornton.
Livestock enterprises contribute substantially to the world’s greenhouse gases, largely through deforestation to make room for livestock grazing and feed crops, the methane ruminant animals give off, and the nitrous oxide emitted by manure. Estimates of this contribution vary widely (10-18% (PDF), or more, of global greenhouse-gas emissions) and are still being researched – it’s a complex question and hotly debated.
Continue reading Reducing carbon hoofprints and increasing tropical farming incomes
In 1898, Sir William Crookes, then President of the British Association stated that: “England and all the civilised nations stand in deadly peril of not having enough to eat”. He was referring to Britain’s reliance on imported wheat and concerns that there was insufficient land to meet global demand when yields were around 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
Crookes was aware of the pioneering work of Sir John Lawes and Sir Henry Gilbert who showed that wheat yields of up to four tonnes per hectare could be produced year after year by application of nitrogen fertilisers. Crookes proposed that the power of Niagara Falls should be harnessed for “oxidating free nitrogen of the air” and thereby enabling “twelve million tons of nitrate of soda to be applied to the global wheat crop”.
Continue reading The need for nitrogen – is sustainable food production possible?