57% losses in the food chain

According to calculations from the UNEP, of the 4,600 calories which are produced by farmers on global average, only 2,000 are finally available for household consumption. Harvest losses, the conversion from plant-based calories to animal-based calories, distribution losses and waste eat up the calories in between – only 43% of the potential edible crop harvest is available for consumption.
These average values have not taken more extreme forms of food waste in industrial food production, or the high levels of retail and household waste in certain societies into account. . The UNEP calculations also do not consider the increasing amount of agricultural land which is not used for food production (see also > meat).


Climate and Energy

Although agriculture is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emission, it tends to be largely neglected in national and international climate protection strategies. The majority of agricultural subsidies paid by industrialised countries continue to promote cultivation and production methods, consumer habits and trade flows which all contribute to global warming.
Due to the capacity of plants to absorb CO2 and soils to sequester carbon long-term,  On a global scale, carbon sequestration in soils has the potential to offset from 5 to 15% of the total annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the near-term (Global, p. 190)agriculture is the only economic sector with the potential to substantially contribute to the mitigation of climate change. However, food security concepts with the aim of securing nutrition in developing countries are still pursuing obsolete strategies, which focus on increasing yields through higher energy input.
The IAASTD calls for a fundamental change to agricultural and trade policies so that they adapt to the international community’s climate targets. Cultivation methods which are low in emissions and store carbon as well as climate-friendly forms of production and consumption must be incorporated into current international climate negotiations (see also> Adaptation to Climate Change, Agroecology & Industrial Agriculture and small-scale farming).


CO2-saving potential in agriculture

The IAASTD see the greatest CO2-saving potential of agriculture in a more climate-friendly form of soil management. The report recommends the following measures:
Agricultural land must not lie fallow and a permanent vegetative soil cover should be maintained. Tillage and ploughing has to be reduced to a minimum. At the same time, a systematic building up of organic matter will increase the carbon-storage capacity and fertility of the soil. For this purpose, crop residues should be recycled instead of leaving them for decomposition at the soil surface. Chemical fertiliser should be replaced with green manure and organic pest control be used instead of pesticides.
Efforts to avoid deforestation must be increased and under-utilised or degraded land should be reafforested. The integration of existing forests and planting of new trees in agroforestry systems could also make an important contribution to climate change mitigation efforts.
The IAASTD argues that this must become the most urgent priority in order to drastically reduce agriculture‘s dependence on fossil fuel energy. In addition, an enormous potential lies in the optimisation and replacement of plant-based fuels, such as firewood. Many of these measures would not only reduce CO2 emissions, but would also help agriculture to better adapt to future climate change and to conserve natural resources and biodiversity (see also> agroecology).

Increase food energy efficiency

Measures to reduce CO2 emissions in agriculture cannot be exclusively assessed according to climate aspects, but rather must be adapted to the respective local conditions. The IAASTD explicitly warns against “silver bullet” or global solutions in this context. A secure, global solution does exist however when it comes to increasing food energy efficiency and the question of how many calories of energy input are needed to produce one calorie of food that is actually consumed. With 30% to 50% of all foodstuffs in the US and EU simply being thrown away in factories, retail, restaurants and private households, it is here that the largest efficiency gains could be achieved. 



  • IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Mitigation. Chapter 8 Agriculture
  • FAO - Climate Change News & Publications on Climate Change
  • UNEP United Nations Environment Programme - Climate Change
  • IFPRI-Climate Change research institute working on climate change and food security
  • REDD UN initiative on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation
  • EEA European Environment Agency - Climate Change

Civil Society


Videos: Climate and Energy

To watch playlist click on image
To watch playlist click on image


  • UNEP Greenhouse Gas EmissionsUNEP Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  • UNEP Human influenesUNEP Human influenes
  • UNEP Emissions from AgricultureUNEP Emissions from Agriculture
  • UNEP - Regional CO<sub>2</sub> emissionsUNEP - Regional CO2 emissions
  • UNEP - Coastal vulnerabilityUNEP - Coastal vulnerability
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Unterstützer von www.weltagrarbericht.de biovision Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V. Demeter Greenpeace Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung Eine Welt Stiftung Die Grünen, Europäische Freie Allianz Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. Misereor Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand
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