Posted on November, 04 2022

  • Although more countries are including food in their national climate commitments, 98% are failing to take the necessary action from farm-to-fork to meet climate goals
  • Adding actions on diets and food loss and waste to national climate plans could reduce food-based greenhouse emissions by an extra 18 percent
  • Recognizing and supporting Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ rights and resources would reduce food-based emissions by more than 10 percent
3 November 2022 – Policymakers must urgently increase the scale and ambition of food-based climate solutions included in national plans if there is to be any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Unlocking and Scaling Climate Solutions in Food Systems, a new report from WWF, finds that 98% of countries who have submitted revised Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement (NDCs) are overlooking key solutions required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food systems. By immediately implementing shifts to healthier and more sustainable diets, and slashing food loss and waste, alongside the adoption of nature-positive production practices, countries can keep the window to achieving a 1.5 degrees future open.
Food systems produce around 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and continuing on a business-as-usual trajectory would see food-based emissions singlehandedly exhaust the carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. Countries are waking up to this fact, with the vast majority of updated NDCs now including some mention of food systems. However, the emphasis remains on agriculture, with critical solutions continuing to be overlooked. As few as 36 countries include actions on food loss and waste and only 5 on diets, largely ignoring the collective opportunity to reduce global emissions by an extra 2.5 Gt CO2e annually – the equivalent of taking more than half a billion cars off the road each year. Although 540 million depend on fisheries and aquaculture for nutrition and income, only 54 countries consider sustainable fishing and aquaculture in their NDCs.
 “There are positive signs in that more and more countries are incorporating food systems transformation in their climate plans. But targets must be more ambitious and words must be followed by action. We must do better. Further delay in adopting food systems approaches from farm-to-fork will see the 1.5 degrees window slam shut in our faces. National-level action is key in delivering a stable climate and nourishing everyone on the planet, so it’s imperative that policymakers build holistic food actions into NDCs and implement solutions immediately,” said Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF.
The report identifies six actions that policymakers can take to make their NDCs stronger. In addition to holistic approaches and quantified, measurable targets, the importance of recognising the importance of marginalised communities is underscored. While numbers have increased, less than half of all updated NDCs mention Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. Still fewer mention the importance of smallholder farmers. Oftentimes, these are the communities directly responsible for implementing solutions. Recognising and supporting IP and LC rights could result in more than 1.5 Gt CO2e of emissions being avoided each year, primarily through improved stewardship of tropical forests.
“It is clear now more than ever that the global climate and food crises are two sides of the same coin and that we need to address both simultaneously to have a chance at securing a liveable future for all. This calls for policymaking and implementation, including through the NDCs, to take a holistic and context-appropriate approach. This means examining food systems in their totality – from production to consumption to disposal – and working with all stakeholders across sectors and all levels of government to design and implement appropriate policies,” said Haseeb Bakhtary, Senior Consultant at Climate Focus, and Lead Author of the report.
Global leaders and national policymakers will gather at the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change annual conference (COP27) which begins in Egypt next week. “There are many competing social and economic issues that could decelerate climate action, when we need the exact opposite,” said Campari. “Food is particularly at risk as it’s only breaking into the agenda at climate conferences. At COP27 leaders need to show a clear commitment to long-term food systems transformation, even as we react to short-term crises. It’s time for food to be on the centre table.”
NDCs for Food - Unlocking and Scaling Climate Solutions in Food Systems