Lesson 1: Traditional agricultural methods’ impact

Agriculture is a significant contributor to the increase of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions by 10-12% globally. Major greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, are emitted by agricultural activities.

Open-air industrial farming is heavily criticized for its impact on the environment, with an estimated 1.9-2.2 billion people still using traditional farming methods. This type of agriculture, which includes industrial farming and other traditional subcategories, is responsible for most of the world’s food production.

From production to consumption, food provisioning releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at every stage.

Global food waste, resulting from on-farm losses, non-marketable crops, and transportation losses, contributes to 25% of total emissions, while global food losses account for 30% of total production on average.

The European Union must reduce its agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and adapt its food production system to tackle climate change.

In 2012, agriculture contributed 10% of the European Union’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

To address this problem, reducing livestock numbers, improving fertiliser application efficiency, and better managing manure are some of the potential methods that could be implemented.

Additionally, modifying food consumption patterns could help reduce GHG emissions further. Generally, meat and dairy products have the highest carbon, raw materials, and water footprints per kilogram of any food.

Livestock and fodder production generate more than 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in terms of GHG emissions, while post-farm transport and processing only account for a small fraction of food-related emissions. We can reduce agricultural GHG emissions by decreasing food waste and avoiding consumption of emission-intensive food products.

 

Source: https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/signals-2015/articles/agriculture-and-climate-change