Urban food systems: how regionalization can contribute to climate change mitigation

Pradhan, P., Kriewald, S., Costa, L., Rybski, D., Benton, T., Fischer, G., & Kropp, J.P. (2020). Urban food systems: how regionalization can contribute to climate change mitigation. Environmental Science & Technology 54 (17) 10551-10560. 10.1021/acs.est.0c02739.

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Cities will play a key role in the grand challenge of nourishing a growing global population, because, due to their population density, they set the demand. To ensure that food systems are sustainable as well as nourishing, one solution often suggested is to shorten their supply chains towards a regional rather than a global basis. Whilst such regional systems may have a range of costs and benefits, we investigate the mitigation potential of regionalized urban food systems by examining the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transport. Using data on food consumption for 7,108 urban administrative units (UAUs), we simulate total transport emissions for both regionalized and globalized supply chains. In regionalized systems, the UAUs’ demands are fulfilled by peripheral food production, whereas to simulate global supply chains, food demand is met from an international pool (where the origin can be any location globally). We estimate that regionalized systems could reduce current emissions from food transport. However, because longer supply chains benefit from maximizing comparative advantage, this emission reduction would require closing yield gaps, reducing food waste, shifting towards diversified farming, and consuming seasonal produce. Regionalization of food systems will be an essential component to limit global warming to well below 2 °C in the future.

Item Type: Article
Research Programs: Water (WAT)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2020 13:14
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:33
URI: https://pure.iiasa.ac.at/16586

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