The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets

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Abstract

International trade presents a challenge for measuring the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission footprint of human diets, because imported food is produced with different production efficiencies and sourcing regions differ in land use histories. We analyze how trade and countries of origin impact GHG footprint calculation for EU food consumption. We find that food consumption footprints can differ considerably between the EU countries with estimates varying from 610 to 1460 CO 2 -eq. cap −1 yr −1 . These estimates include the GHG emissions from primary production, international trade and land use change. The share of animal products in the diet is the most important factor determining the footprint of food consumption. Embedded land use change in imports also plays a major role. Transition towards more plant-based diets has a great potential for climate change mitigation.

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Sandström, V., Valin, H., Krisztin, T., Havlík, P., Herrero, M., & Kastner, T. (2018). The role of trade in the greenhouse gas footprints of EU diets. Global Food Security, 19, 48–55. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2018.08.007

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