Climate Change

Key messages

1. Agrifood system solutions are climate solutions.

2. Amid growing climate impacts and slow progress on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, sustainable food systems and agricultural practices can help countries and communities to adapt, build resilience, and mitigate emissions, ensuring food security and nutrition while reversing environmental degradation and its impacts.

3. FAO already supports countries to deliver solutions. However, a transformation of agrifood systems to tackle the climate crisis can only be realized by scaling up investment in action at local, national and global levels.

4. Transforming to more efficient, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems must be equitable, inclusive and gender responsive – addressing loss and damage in the agriculture sectors.

5. Science, innovation and data are critical for climate policies and informed decision-making – including on proactive measures to prepare for extreme weather.

6. Countries need to develop holistic approaches and national strategies to address the interlinked climate, food, nutrition, water, land, biodiversity and energy challenges. 

Facts and figures

1. Agrifood systems – encompassing all aspects of the production, distribution and consumption of food – are responsible for one-third of all anthropogenic (human-made) greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.

3. Energy, climate, water and food systems are interconnected. Energy-related activities within agrifood systems contribute to around one third of emissions from the food sector while 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture.

4. Forests are an integral part of the climate solution. Forests contain 662 billion tonnes of carbon, which is more than half the global carbon stock in soils and vegetation.

5. Halting deforestation can help cut greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 11% annually, safeguarding most of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity and providing critical ecosystem services.

6. Ecosystem restoration, including through reforestation and afforestation, is needed to maintain and build carbon sinks. The global mitigation potential of reforestation and afforestation by 2050 can be 3.9 gigatonnes of CO2 per year.

7. Sustainable livestock systems can reduce emissions, in particular methane, by up to 30 percent by increasing efficiency through improved feeding, genetics and health.

8. Healthy soils are key in the mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and to building resilient agrifood systems and could annually offset one-third of global GHG emissions from agricultural land.

9. A shift towards healthy diets from sustainable agrifood systems can help reduce the climate change costs by up to USD 1.3 trillion, while also reducing health-care costs.

10. One-third of the food produced for human consumption is estimated to be lost or wasted. Reducing food loss and waste, from production to the consumer, can help save resources, reduce GHG emissions and increase the availability of foods to achieve food security and nutrition.