Meat, dairy and egg demand to grow 70%
By 2050 it is anticipated that food demand will have risen by more than 50%, with demand for animal-based food products (meat, dairy and eggs) likely to grow by almost 70%. Meeting this increased demand will be essential if the nearly 10 billion people alive then are to be fed.
How can the agriculture and food industries produce this much food without exacerbating poverty, accelerating deforestation and increasing GHG emissions? A report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, produced by WRI, in partnership with the World Bank, UN Environment, UN Development Programme, CIRAD and INRA, has been looking at this problem and recommends we start making substantial changes to our food system now.
The report includes a menu of 22 options that suggests it is possible to feed everyone sustainably. The top five recommendations are:
- Reducing demand by cutting food loss and waste, eating less beef and lamb, using crops for food and feed rather than biofuels, and reducing population growth by achieving replacement fertility levels.
- Increasing crop and livestock productivity to higher than historical levels but on the same land area.
- Stopping deforestation, restoring peatlands and degraded land, and linking yield gains to protection of natural landscapes.
- Improving aquaculture and managing wild fisheries more effectively.
- Using innovative technologies and farming methods that lower agricultural GHG emissions.
Limiting global warming will mean acting on the food sector
As things stand, agriculture, including the resulting land use changes, accounts for some 25% of global emissions (12 Gt of CO2 per year). The figure could reach 15 Gt of CO2 by 2050, ie, more than 70% of the global 'carbon budget' set in the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 2°C. This would leave just 30% for other sectors that generate greenhouse gas emissions, such as transport. The report explains how the world could reduce agricultural GHG emissions by two thirds (to 4 Gt CO2) by 2050.
Food lies behind most environmental and development issues: deforestation, malnutrition, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, climate change, water pollution and more. By improving how the world's food is produced and consumed, we can treat the cause and not just the symptoms.
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