Food & Agriculture

Humans have a basic need for food, and maintaining a good diet is important for maintaining our welfare. Our food is produced, stored, processed, packaged, delivered, prepared, and served before it reaches our plates. Food supply emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at every stage.

Particularly in agriculture, large amounts of the potent greenhouse gases nitrous oxide and methane are released. Livestock create methane during digestion as a result of enteric fermentation, which is then expelled by belching. Additionally, it may escape from landfills' organic waste and manure storage. Organic and mineral nitrogen fertilisers produce nitrous oxide emissions in an indirect manner.

Net Covering Crops

Climate change

For crops to thrive, the right soil, water, light, and heat are essential. Over a considerable portion of Europe, the length of the growing season has already been impacted by warmer air temperatures. For cereal crops, flowering and harvest dates are now occurring several days earlier in the season. In many areas, these shifts are anticipated to continue.

In general, a longer growing season and an expansion of the frost-free period may result in an improvement across agricultural productivity in northern Europe. Longer growing seasons and warmer temperatures might potentially make it possible to raise new crops. In southern Europe, crop productivity is anticipated to be hampered by extreme heat events, decreased precipitation, and a lack of water. Extreme weather occurrences, along with other variables like pests and diseases, are also anticipated to cause crop yields to vary more and more from one year to the next.

Some summer crops might be grown in the winter in certain Mediterranean regions because the summers are so hot and dry. Due to hot, dry summers, yields in other regions, such as western France and south-eastern Europe, are predicted to decline without the option of shifting crop production into the winter.

The growth and spread of some species, such as insects, invasive weeds, and diseases, may also be impacted by changes in temperatures and growing seasons. All of these factors may have an impact on crop yields.

Farmers and fishing communities can get assistance from some EU programmes, such as the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and loans from the European Investment Bank. Other CAP grants are also available to aid in lowering greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities.

Farming methods like crop rotation to match water availability, altering sowing dates to temperature and rainfall patterns, and employing crop types more suited to new conditions can all help mitigate some of the possible output losses.

Food sources not just derived from the land are impacted by climate change. In the Northeast Atlantic, the distribution of some fish species has already changed, having an impact on the communities that depend on them along the supply chain.

Global market

The production of less food is not a workable answer. One eighth of the world's cereal production, two thirds of its wine, half of its sugar beet, and three quarters of its olive oil are produced in the EU, one of the world's greatest food producers. Any decrease in essential staples is likely to put the world's and the EU's food security at risk and drive up food prices globally.

The world's appetite for food is anticipated to increase by up to 70% over the next few decades as a result of population growth projections and dietary shifts toward more meat eating. One of the economic sectors with the biggest effects on the environment is already agriculture.

Meeting the increasing need for food by using more land will have detrimental effects on the ecology and the climate, whether in Europe or the rest of the globe. In Europe, the areas best suited for agriculture are already heavily developed. In Europe and around the world, there is a limited supply of land, particularly fertile agricultural land.

Additionally, converting forested regions into farmland is not the answer because it produces greenhouse gas emissions. Deforestation, which is now primarily occurring outside of the European Union, threatens biodiversity in a similar way to many other land-use changes, further impairing nature's capacity to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Increased usage of nitrogen-based fertilisers, which result in the release of nitrous oxide emissions and contribute to climate change, is frequently necessary to increase food production on land that is currently used for agriculture. Nitrates are also released to the soil and water bodies by intensive agriculture and the use of fertilisers. High levels of nutrients, particularly phosphates and nitrates, in water bodies lead to eutrophication, which is unrelated to climate change. Eutrophication encourages the growth of algae and reduces water oxygen levels, which has a negative influence on aquatic life and water quality.