The dairy industry may be the key to meeting climate targets in Europe, a new study has found.
Interestingly, reducing greenhouse gases is linked to beef consumption, giving some light to the impact of agriculture in unwanted emissions.

"We find that food-related methane and nitrous oxide emissions can be reduced enough to meet the EU 2050 climate targets," the authors wrote.

Interventions geared towards reducing climate temperatures to two degrees Celsius focus mainly on carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. However, the role of methane and nitrous emissions from agricultural activities in meeting climate targets has not yet been looked at. In fact, there is not much information about the potential greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in combination with technological modernization and dietary changes.

Finding The Link

In the new study, Swedish scientists have estimated the extent to which modifications in technology and demand can decrease local food-related greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet climate targets.

The experiment is composed of three parts. The first one looked into the baseline diet scenario, which describes changes in the existing average dietary consumption up to the year 2050. The researchers also included five other scenarios, which entail lesser greenhouse gas-related diets.

In the second phase, the team looked into the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions in the current food supply.

Lastly, the researchers looked into possible interventions that can reduce the intensity of supply emissions via technological means.

All in all, the team intricately analyzed 30 different food items that represents the food and agricultural sector in Sweden.

Role Of Food In Reducing Greenhouse Gases

The findings of the study showed that being able to cut down methane and nitrous oxide emissions from food may help EU reach its climate targets for 2050.

The authors said that cutting consumption of ruminant meat such as beef and mutton by 50 percent or more is the sole dietary modification that is unavoidable if EU climate targets are to be reached.

Conversely, consumption of non-ruminant meat such as pork and poultry may still be accommodated within meeting targets. However, experts have reminded that high intake of dairy products must be accompanied by technological advancements.

Technology in the agricultural sector has a huge role in cutting down methane and nitrous oxide emissions. However, due to the overly high demand of emissions to be reduced, technology cannot do it alone. Shifting diets to low gas-emitting food is of great value.

Although the experiment focused on Swedish conditions, the authors think that their study results may help Europe as a whole because consumption patterns and technologies are similar.

The study was published online in the journal Food Policy.

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