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Exploring the pathways towards the mitigation of the environmental impacts of food consumption

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  • Albert Kwame Osei-Owusu
  • ,
  • Edgar Towa, Institute for Environmental Management and Land-use Planning, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Av. F.D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
  • ,
  • Marianne Thomsen

Agriculture constitutes a quarter and more than a third of Denmark's global greenhouses gas (GHG) emissions and natural resource consumption, respectively. This paper aims to estimate the potential to lower Denmark's global food-related GHG, blue water and land footprints using the most recent version of a hybrid global multi-regional input-output (MRIO) database, EXIOBASE of the reference year, 2011. Specifically, we apply the ‘what if’ scenario-based MRIO approach to EXIOBASE and quantify the impact of increased livestock feed efficiency (FE), dietary changes, food loss and waste (FLW) reduction/prevention and food waste treatment scenarios on Denmark's global food-related GHG and resource footprints. We obtain modest reductions in Denmark's global GHG, blue water and cropland footprint from the combination of livestock FE improvements and FLW reduction relative to the footprints; 61 kt CO 2e, 2 Mm 3 and 30 kha, respectively. In contrast, dietary change towards no/less meat and dairy diets embodies the most significant reductions potential for Denmark's total global food-related GHG, blue water, croplands and grassland footprint by up to 34% (3.63 Mt. CO 2e), 8% (90 Mm 3), 23% (371 kha) and 78% (386 kha) respectively. A key policy priority should therefore be the nudging of Danish consumers towards sustainable diets. Also, this study's findings emphasise that FLW prevention remains the most effective food waste-related climate mitigation and resource efficiency strategy despite the benefits of food waste valorisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number150528
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume806
Issue2
Number of pages15
ISSN0048-9697
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

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