We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The JRC developed a new global food emission database (EDGAR-FOOD) estimating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the years 1990-2015. It is the first emission database of GHGs covering all countries and sectors of the food system, from production to disposal.
Once food is farmed, harvested or caught, it needs to be transported, processed, packaged, distributed and cooked, and then any residuals disposed of. All these steps use energy and result in direct and indirect emissions spread across most economic sectors worldwide. A third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are related to food, according to the results of this new JRC study.
EDGAR-FOOD provides an unprecedented picture of how an evolving food system has responded to the evolution of world population in the last 25 years, driven among others by changes in welfare, dietary habits and food related technology.
EU citizens expect sustainable food with low greenhouse gas footprints, and transparent, robust data are needed to understand the complexity of food systems, analyse the emissions from the different food stages and support the development of policy tools for the transition to a more sustainable and informed consumption pattern.
Effective policies to transform food systems towards sustainability need to be comprehensive, and provide answers for both economy and consumers, with adequate information.
The share of GHG emissions linked to energy use and industrial processing is increasing. The food system will therefore need to invest in energy efficiency and decarbonisation technologies to reduce GHG emissions, in addition to land-based mitigation technologies within and outside the farm gate.
The completeness of the EDGAR-FOOD database is an important asset for monitoring global food system GHG emissions as part of integrated GHG emission mitigation strategies for the food system, such as the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy.
The database contributes to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Working Group III on climate mitigation) which represents the scientific basis for policy makers in the field of climate change.