The food labels specify the emissions of climate altering gases

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We already spoke about and proved many times that it is urgent to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).


In this respect, several systems have been devised such as, for example, technological development, energy efficiency and the increase in the use of renewable energies. But there is another measure that could help and that is to change the human diet and to improve what we eat.

Let’s take a step back: current vegetarian or vegan diets are beginning to be considered useful to reduce GHG emissions. Therefore, we should encourage consumption of vegetables rather than red meat. One tool would be the introduction of carbon taxes that could make more convenient for companies to produce with technologies, processes, raw materials and transports with a lower carbon footprint (i.e. the total greenhouse gases: CO2, CH4, N2O, HFCs generated by a product throughout its life cycle). But that’s not enough. Social scientists are studying and verifying which actions can change the behavior of food purchases, addressing it towards products with lower GHG emissions. According to two researches carried out by A. R. Camilleri of the Business School of the University of Technology in Sidney and other colleagues, a system could be to label food according to its degree of emissions. The research was published in Nature Climate Change N°9 of January 2019. The results underline that consumers underestimate the emissions of GHG during the production and distribution of food. In particular, normally they do not know that the production of meat is a real waste: the production of 1 kg of animal proteins takes 38 kg of vegetable proteins. In summary, the production of food at a global level is responsible for 19 to 29% of all GHG emissions. And therefore it produces between 6 and 9 billion tons of CO2 equivalent. In conclusion: without the necessary information the consumer chooses its food without knowing which is the one whose preparation emits the greatest quantity of GHG. Therefore, the research intends to assess whether the labels that report GHG emissions can orient the consumer towards food with a lower carbon footprint. Indeed the labels – if designed in such a way that they are easy and immediate to read, for example with colored strips in relation to the greater or lesser degree of CO2 emission – seem to be the most practical and functional tool to increase the awareness of consumers. In the next issue, we’ll see the actions for a correct and comprehensive (but also immediate) information of the consumer. 

(to be continued)