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September 27th, 2017

Greedy or needy? Land use and climate impacts of food in 2050 under different livestock futures

Published by Global Environmental Change,

This article (PDF) in the journal Global Environmental Change estimates global land use and greenhouse gas emissions for a set of scenarios, building on four livestock futures. The scenarios are: further intensification of livestock systems; a transition to plant-based eating; a move towards artificial meat and dairy; and a future in which livestock production is restricted to the use of ‘ecological leftovers’. Results show that without improvements in crop productivity or reductions on today’s waste levels, available cropland will only suffice if production of all protein currently supplied by animal foods is replaced by artificial variants not requiring any land. With livestock intensities corresponding to current ones in North-Western Europe and with yield gaps closed by 50% and waste reduced by 50%, available, cropland will suffice for all scenarios that include a reduction of animal products and/or a transition to poultry or aquaculture. However, in the scenario based on an extrapolation of current consumption patterns and with livestock production based on feed from cropland, available cropland will not be enough. The scenario that makes use of pastures for ruminant production and food waste for pigs, uses considerably less cropland and could provide 40–56 kg per capita per year of red meat. However, such a livestock future would not reduce GHG emissions from agriculture on current levels. This study confirms previous research that to achieve a sustainable food future, action is needed on all fronts; improved supply and reduced demand and waste.

Curated from sciencedirect.com