The climate crisis and what to do about it
False and dubious solutions
Reasons for optimism
Tecnicalities by sector
Standards of administration in a democracy
Best practice examples
Emissions from food
Total greenhouse gasesThe total greenhouse gases from food is taken to be 2.2 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person per year.
The components of this are:
Other estimates are:
So switching to organic food can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by 0.7 tonnes CO2 equ.
Meat and dairy foods
So switching to a vegan diet can reduce an individual's carbon footprint by 0.4 tonnes equ.
So switching to buying local food could save most of this total e.g. 0.25 tonnes per person.
Buying minimally packaged foods could save most of this total i.e. 0.2 tonnes per person.
[Composting organic packaging could save a proportion of it]
Avoiding processed food could save most of this i.e. 0.15 tonnes per person
Food wasteIn the UK, about one third of the food bought is thrown away, and at least half of this is food that could have been eaten . Inedible food includes potato peelings, bones, banana skins and teabags. Edible food can be discarded because too much is prepared, or because it has gone past its use-by date and so on.
Another way of looking at this is that relative to food eaten, on average another 25% is wasted, and a similar amount is inedible food.
If this 25% waste is reduced by half to 12.5%, then the edible food bought falls from 125% of what is eaten to 112.5%, and all emissions connected with food fall by one tenth - and the total amount discarded (edible plus inedible) falls by one quarter.
If someone throws away more food than average by half as much again, then the edible food bought rises from 125% of what is eaten to 137.5%, and all emissions connected with food rise by one tenth - and the total amount discarded (edible plus inedible) increases by one quarter.
Landfill decomposition of food
Composting or re-using food residues could save most of this i.e. 0.2 tonnes per person. This amount would be more or less depending on how much edible food is wasted.
Greenhouse gases that are not avoidableThese comprise 
These total 11 Mt CO2 equ (0.2 tonnes per person)
Miscellaneous pointsUK food production is only 60% of UK consumption 
Food exports from the UK are worth around £6.5bn - with cereals and fish making the largest contribution  .
Food imports are worth almost £20bn, vegetables and fruit being the largest category  .
The origin of UK food is as follows (2006 data, based on unprocessed farm-gate prices)  :
Units & AbbreviationsMt: million tonnes (referring to the UK total)
CO2 equ. : CO2 equivalent
Figures given are per year
First published: 2008
Last updated: 11 Jul 2019