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Sustainability & Climate Change

Key Facts

  • Global food systems generate one-third of all human-caused GHG emissions
  • About 60% of Nitrous Oxide emissions come from agriculture

Our food system is contributing to climate change, and in turn, climate change poses a threat to our food system. If we are to protect our food system and our planet at the same time, we need to consider both our health AND the earth’s health when we decide what to eat.  

Our food system drives climate change through... 

  • Land use 
    • Forests are the lungs of the earth and help turn carbon dioxide into the oxygen, but we’re cutting them down to clear land for farming. Agriculture is responsible for 80% of global deforestation.
    • Clearing these forests destroys habitats that are home to wildlife: it’s a major cause of biodiversity loss. 
  • Animal rearing 
    • Animals like cows and sheep release gases. Breeding them to eat causes 14.5% of all global GHG emissions.  
  • Fertiliser  
    • Nitrogen fertiliser used in farming leads to emissions of nitrous oxide which is a very potent greenhouse gas and causes dangerous levels of pollution in water, meaning wildlife is unable to survive in those environments. 
  • Transportation  
    • Processing, importing and exporting food contributes to global warming, as does food waste.  

Climate change compromises our food system because....  

  • Flooding and droughts caused by climate change seriously threaten our ability to grow food and rear animals. These impacts are often experienced by poorer countries who have hardly contributed to the problem.  

A more sustainable food system has the potential to reduce its GHG emissions by up to 74%, while building the planet’s resilience and allowing us to eat healthier diets.  

How can we make global changes while supporting local culture and tradition?  



Marie-Clare Graf

Marie-Clare Graf, 24, Switzerland

Food systems are essential to achieve the climate targets and avoid a climate catastrophe. Transformation does not depend on fancy technologies but rather on reinventing indigenous practices and social rights.


Marie-Clare uses diverse engagement to inspire young people towards ambitious climate action and sustainable development. She leads several movements to create momentum for change. Read more about Marie-Clare on Act4Food.