News Digest | 1-15 November

FAO report reveals hidden costs of agrifood systems 

The 2023 edition of The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), the report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) covers 154 countries. It starts the idea of unseen costs and benefits of agrifood systems. In order to promote more sustainability, the goal is to assist decision-makers in guiding the world’s agrifood systems, which comprise all forms of agricultural production, both food and non-food. The study discovered that unhealthy diets heavy in ultra-processed foods, fats, and sugars are the primary cause of the largest hidden costs—more than 70%—which also result in labor productivity losses and obesity and non-communicable diseases. Environmental factors, including water consumption, land use change, and greenhouse gas and nitrogen emissions, account for one-fifth of the overall expenses and impact all nations. However, the hidden costs of agrifood systems affect low-income countries more severely than middle-income or high-income countries. In low-income countries, these expenses account for over 25% of GDP, while in middle-income and high-income countries, they account for less than 8%. These countries also bear the greatest hidden costs of poverty and undernourishment. In order to address the “true” or hidden costs of agrifood systems, the paper recommends more frequent and thorough analysis by public and private entities using true cost accounting. While measurements have been attempted before, this report from the FAO is the first to break these expenses down to the national level and guarantee that the costs are similar within and between economies.

Fossil fuel producers ‘literally doubling down’, new UNEP report warns

The 2023 Production Gap Report from the UN Environment Agency (UNEP) states that declining global government policies will result in a doubling of fossil fuel production by 2030, despite promises to reduce it. Even though 151 national governments have committed to achieving net-zero emissions, this increase in fuel extraction is occurring. Even in the absence of additional regulations, the most recent projections indicate that the demand for coal, oil, and gas will peak globally this decade. According to government plans, worldwide oil and gas output will rise until at least 2050, whereas global coal production will rise until 2030. A minimum 75% decrease in oil and gas production from 2020 levels by 2050 is also recommended by the research. Since carbon dioxide removal and storage carry a great deal of risk and uncertainty, all of this is extremely important. While 17 of the 20 nations in the report have made the commitment to attain net-zero emissions, and many have started programs to reduce emissions from activities related to the production of fossil fuels, none have made the commitment to decrease the production of coal, oil, and gas in accordance with keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To ensure a fair and equitable transition, it is necessary to make sincere pledges to increase the use of renewable energy sources, gradually phase out the use of fossil fuels, and improve energy efficiency.   

EU agrees law to curb methane emissions from fossil fuel industry

The fossil fuel industry will be compelled under an agreement reached by the EU to reduce hazardous methane emissions.The first law of its sort, if it were passed, would force gas, oil, and coal corporations to record their methane emissions and take preventative measures. By 2027, the actions will minimize inefficient procedures like venting and flaring gas in addition to identifying and repairing leaks. According to research by the International Energy Agency, current technology may typically be used to reduce methane emissions at a cheap cost, accounting for over 75% of emissions from oil and gas operations and 50% of emissions from coal. The monitoring and reporting provisions in the EU’s new regulations were praised by the campaign group Climate Action Network (Can), but they claimed that the time was “the biggest loophole.” By 2027, the European Commission will have to come up with a methodology for the maximum intensity of methane emissions; by 2030, the EU will implement it for imports. States that are members of the European Union will be required under the new regulations to measure the amount of methane escaping from coal mines that have been closed or abandoned in the last 70 years and to publish an inventory of them. In addition, mine operators that still run mines will need to gradually stop venting and flaring. From 2030 onwards, such activities in closed mines will be prohibited.

‘No end in sight’ to rising greenhouse gas emissions: World Meteorological Organization

Nitrous oxide, the third principal gas, showed the largest year-over-year increase on record from 2021 to 2022, while methane concentrations also increased. “We are still heading in the wrong direction, despite decades of warnings from the scientific community, thousands of pages of reports, and dozens of climate conferences,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas stated. According to the WMO, little under half of CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean, just under 30% by “land ecosystems” including forests, and over 25% by the atmosphere. Global temperatures will rise as long as emissions are sustained and CO2 builds up in the atmosphere. Not only that but even if emissions are quickly brought down to net zero, the temperature level that has already been recorded will last for a number of decades. 3 to 5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer and the sea level was 10 to 20 meters higher, was the last time the Earth saw a concentration of CO2 that was equivalent. In order to promote mitigation efforts and advance knowledge of climate change, the WMO this year unveiled a project to guarantee continuous, routine worldwide monitoring of greenhouse gas fluxes and concentrations.


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