Food production could be responsible for as much as 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions from food production have been underestimated for decades, a new study published this week in Environmental Research Letters suggests. Most reports put agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions at about one-fifth of the global total. But that oft-cited statistic fails to account for many other parts of the food system, including the raising of crops and livestock, retail sales, and food waste, among other factors. When you do the math, food production systems could be responsible for about as much as 40 percent of global emissions, according to the report, a collaboration from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Columbia University, and New York University. The updated numbers could have a major impact on how individual countries report food system emissions at the national level, and they could help countries find untapped opportunities to reduce emissions in their food systems in order to meet climate pledges.