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Food Sector Emissions

This report was last updated in May 2022.


Currently, food sector emissions account for 23 to 42 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Even if we eliminate all fossil fuel emissions, current trends in food emissions will make it impossible to keep warming below 1.5°C. Therefore, climate change mitigation must include efforts to curb food sector emissions. To that end, we at Giving Green are in the early stages of seeking out charities that have the potential to significantly and cost-effectively reduce emissions from food systems.

This report describes how we selected the most promising interventions for reducing food sector emissions and our next steps. First, we focused on livestock emissions because of their outsized role in food sector emissions; we will investigate other sources of food sector emissions, such as fertilizer, in the future. Next, we compiled a list of livestock-related interventions and then evaluated them based on importance (mitigation potential), tractability (likelihood of progress), and neglectedness (need for additional funding). From this process, we found that efforts to make alternative meats competitive with conventional meat are probably the most promising for cutting livestock emissions. In addition, feed additives that reduce methane emissions from ruminants are also promising. However, they are less promising than alternative meats because feed additives have a lower mitigation potential, and it is unclear how well they would scale.

Our next steps include speaking with nonprofit organizations working on either of these interventions and assessing the impact and cost-effectiveness of their work. Ultimately, we will recommend a charity if it meets our high standards of being evidence-based, well-structured, and cost-effective, with the capacity to absorb additional funding productively.

Download the full report here:

2022-05 Food Sector Emissions
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