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FAO Issue Paper Examines the Global Food System’s Dependence on Fossil Fuels

Energy-Smart' Food for People and Climate29 November 2011: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) published an issue paper, titled "'Energy-Smart' Food for People and Climate," highlighting the need for the global food system to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels to succeed in feeding a growing world population and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The paper addresses: energy inputs and GHG emissions for food supply chains, including primary production, drying, cooling, storage, transport, distribution, processing, retailing, preparation and cooking; improving energy efficiency and reducing food losses; energy supply from the food sector; energy access for livelihoods in food systems; and policy options for climate change mitigation, agriculture, energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy access, and addressing knowledge gaps.

According to the paper, the food sector (including input manufacturing, production, processing, transportation marketing and consumption) accounts for approximately 30 percent of global energy consumption and produces over 20 percent of global GHG emissions. The FAO highlights the need to decouple food prices from increasing and volatile fossil fuel prices.

The paper notes opportunities to increase efficiency in the food system, underscoring that around one-third of all food produced — and the energy that is embedded in it — is lost or wasted.

During the Durban Climate Change Conference, FAO is advocating "Energy-smart food for people and climate," an approach based on three pillars: providing energy access for all with a focus on rural communities; improving energy efficiency at all stages of the food supply chain; and substituting fossil fuels with renewable energy systems in the food sector. [FAO Press Release] [Publication: "Energy-Smart" Food for People and Climate]