Scientists Urge Collective Action to Avert Climate Change Catastrophe

Report calls for total transformation of how food systems operate


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 came as a “wake-up call” to world leaders ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, in Poland.

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. 

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%-25% 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. 

Key experts professor Tim Benton, dean of strategic research initiatives at the University of Leeds in England, and Dr. Robin Fears, IAP project coordinator and director of the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) Biosciences Program, discussed these issues during an online IAP press conference.

“The food industry has a huge role to potentially play," Benton said in an interview with Food Ingredients First. "There is the whole issue of trying to make food healthier. A lot of the food on the shelves at the moment is not healthy because it doesn’t have the appropriate nutrient density."

Industry should “coalesce” and work together in a noncompetitive space, he adds. Industry can work with consumers and policymakers because the change has got to come if we want to live on a sustainable planet.


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