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A broken global food system: Scientists urge “collective action” to avert climate change catastrophe

A broken global food system: Scientists urge “collective action” to avert climate change catastrophe

29 Nov 2018 --- Global food systems are failing and urgently need to be turned around to avoid catastrophic climate change, according to some of the world’s leading science academies. An in-depth report from the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) calls for a total transformation of how systems operate as agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving “disastrous climate change.” Key themes include the type of food produced and how to mitigate impacts through “climate-smart” food systems as well as dietary changes such as cutting down on meat. The report comes as a “wake-up call” to world leaders ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP24, in Poland starting on Sunday.

The current approach to food, nutrition, agriculture and the environment is “unsustainable and must change” – and there is “no time to waste”, according to the 130 national academies of science and medicine, across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe that compose the IAP.

After working for three years on this report, these experts want to drive collective action worldwide to transform global food systems in order to feed the world’s growing population and lessen the impact of climate change.

This year has revealed, in more detail than before, precisely how vulnerable food systems are to extreme weather. Agriculture, forestry and land-use change alone, not including food transport and other energy-intensive processes, contribute approximately 20 to 25 percent to global annual emissions. The livestock sector causes the same carbon emissions as all the world’s vehicles, trains, ships and planes combined, according to the report.

This comes a few weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued its starkest climate change warning yet, the urgency to limit global warming to 1.5°C which would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”