Trends in greenhouse gas emissions from Brazilian foods using GGDOT

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Concerns regarding the relationship between climate change and food production have called the attention of scientific, governmental and non-governmental institutions. The accumulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHG) is well established as the main cause of climate change, with over 20% of these emissions coming from food production. Even if clean energy targets are met, greenhouse gases will rise due to methane and nitrous oxide generated by agriculture. This, coupled with the increasing demand for high protein food, will arguably drive food to top priority on the climate change mitigation agenda. Furthermore, food production is likely to be affected by climate change, compromising food security and jeopardising achievement of the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal: "End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture", with major ramifications for the global poor.
Brazil is one of the most populated and agriculturally productive countries in the world and as such has an important contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, Brazil is one of the first to consider sustainability in its National Dietary Guidelines. The third of five principles underpinning the guidelines focuses on "the interdependence between healthy diets and the social and environmental sustainability of the food system''. The guidelines are meant to advise and empower people to make better food choices. However, due to the lack of metrics to assess the impact of foods on the environment, it was not possible at that time to directly incorporate the information about GHG emissions in the recommendations given by the guidelines.
Changing what Brazil eats has a large impact on the environment, population health, and on the Brazilian economy. Brazil is the third biggest agricultural producer worldwide, with a forecast value of US$183 billion by 2021, yet agriculture and land use change account for about 55% of Brazil's GHG emissions. Simultaneously, 57% of the Brazilian male population is overweight or obese, and the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled over the past three decades (15%+ of the population), leading to obesity healthcare costs rising to $330 billion over the next 40 years. Managed sustainable healthy dietary and food systems change is needed if Brazil is to meet its National Policy on Climate Change (38.9% GHG emissions reduction relative to 2020 emissions projections), sustain its agriculture sector and reduce healthcare spending. This project will offer tools and map pathways, which public policymakers can call on to shift towards healthy sustainable diets, thus promoting the economic development and welfare of Brazil.
This proposal brings together experts on food nutrition and GHG in Brazil (Levy and Garzillo) with experts in data science, consumer behaviour and food emissions from the UK (Bridle, Reynolds and Schmidt, respectively), through the work of Silva, who has previously worked in Brazil with Levy and over the past year in Manchester has contributed to GGDOT (Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open source Toolkit). Our collective long-term ambition is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food. As a step towards this, the overall goal of this proposal is to help the Ministry of Health of Brazil to fulfil its goal of making dietary recommendations which are both healthy and sustainable. We will achieve this by quantifying past food trends in Brazil and trying to influence future food trends.

Planned Impact

Our project is in alignment with the United Nations sustainable development agenda and has the mission to tackle climate change by empowering the public to make better food choices. We see our project as part of a big context and believe the biggest impact we expect to see is the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.
The research team will work with stakeholders, policy makers and citizens to tackle barriers that prevent citizens from shifting to sustainable healthy diets and patterns of eating. This research has the overall goal of shifting Brazilian diets towards food security and positive health outcomes, while reducing food related carbon emissions.

We have five measurable IMPACT OBJECTIVES linked to research objectives 3 and 4:
Ob1) Measured researcher use of the GGDOT tool leading to better networks around diet and sustainability in Brazil and the UK.
Ob2) Measured discussion and sharing of GGDOT tool results and visualisations by citizens and media organisations. This represents broader audience reach of the GGDOT messages.
Ob3) Measured use of the GGDOT tool, visualisations and data set by policy makers to instigate policy and food market (economic) change.
Ob4) Changes in policy in Brazil on agriculture and/or food recommendations that cite or are influenced by the results of this project
Obj5) A measured positive dietary shift occurring in members Brazilian population exposed to the tools developed in this project: a) shifting towards diets aligned with the government dietary guidance, b) shifting towards sustainable, low GHGE diets.

We will:
* Work with stakeholders to co-create the GGDOT tool, to deliver measurable improvements in environmental sustainability and dietary shifts.
* Work with stakeholders to understand the a shift to a low GHGE food system is possible (with a measured increased consumption of sustainable products).
* Engage will innovators and influencers from business, government, and the third sector to support the transformation of the Brazilian diet towards resilient, sustainable, and healthy outcomes.
* Work with the Brazilian sub-administration's, policy bodies, and the third sector to inform the development of health, food, farming, and environmental policy via the GGDOT tool.
Furthermore, the tools and data products generated will also be made available on an open source platform, for use beyond the end of the project and by other stakeholders.

Publications

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