Climate friendlier diets

C&I Issue 10, 2019

Keeping below the inter-nationally agreed 2°C climate change target will not only require a transform-ation in global food systems, but also in consumer diets, according to Dhanush Dinesh, Global Policy Engagement Manager at the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

Diets are currently typically regarded as matter of personal choice, and the issue is almost entirely absent from current climate change policy, Dinesh said, speaking at the Bayer Future of Farming Event in Monheim, Germany, in October 2019. Of 195 Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris agreement, he pointed out that only two mention diets and 16 mention nutrition. This is despite the fact that diet is expected to play a bigger role in staying below 2°C than either agricultural production methods or food waste, according to a new report from the CCAFS-led initiative on Transforming food systems under a changing climate.

The report authors argue that governments need to develop comprehensive ‘whole food system’ strategies that balance the needs of nutrition, food security, climate, the environment and economic development. ‘Dietary change offers a route to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal [SDG] food system, combining positive outcomes for health and the environment,’ they note. While the changes vary depending on geography and so on, for many people the shift to a more climate friendly diet would involve consuming more pulses, nuts and vegetables and less meat, dairy, salt and refined carbohydrates.

‘The point is that at the macro level, we are not producing enough fruits and vegetables to meet global needs for human nutrition, and production will need to be ramped up to meet nutrition and sustainability goals,’ Dinesh comments.

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