The climate calls for solutions

In early August, the UN’s Climate Panel, IPCC, published a report, one of whose conclusions was that global food production must change if global warming is to be curbed. This article sets out the Danish Agriculture and Food Council’s views on the subject.

The Danish Agriculture and Food Council (DAFC) agrees that food production must be sustainable. This is why the organisation has launched its vision for climate-neutral Danish food production by 2050.

More details about DAFC’s vision – Climate neutral food 2050

”The UN report has sparked a discussion about meat production of the future. We fully agree that we need to be even more proficient at meat production, but we don’t believe that complete or partial phasing out is the way forward,” says Anne Lawaetz Arhnung, CEO, DAFC.

Projections show that by 2050, there will be 10 billion inhabitants on the planet. This means 30 per cent more mouths to feed. The global middle-class is growing and every time someone is lifted out of poverty, one of the first things they do is to supplement their diet with meat, milk, eggs, etc. This means that demand for both animal and plant-based food is increasing significantly.

"We must therefore become even better at producing sustainably produced food. Fortunately, in Denmark we are far ahead. In our industry, for example, we have a climate-friendly cow. In many places, a cow is either a dairy cow or a 'meat' cow. Our Danish climate-friendly cows not only produce large amounts of quality milk and meat, their hides are used for leather, their blood for medicine, residual meat for feed and the contents of their rumen for biogas. We’re in the process of investigating an additive for cattle feed which may reduce methane emissions significantly and we’re looking into whether methane can be captured through hoods and then converted to energy,” says Anne Lawaetz Arhnung.

The challenge for the global community is to discover how to counteract the increasing demand for food AND halt global warning.

Read also: Sustainability as an engine of growth

Denmark’s food producers are among the most climate-efficient and it would be counter-productive to limit production here where the climate is top of the agenda. Denmark’s most important contribution must therefore be to boost its investment in research, new technology and new methods so that ways can be found for climate-neutral food production.

"We’re on our way, but we’re not there yet. Our vision for completely climate-neutral food production permeates everything we do,” says Anne Lawaetz Arhnung.

The Danish Agriculture & Food Council along with Denmark’s Technical University and Aarhus University recently presented Danish politicians with an opportunity. SkyClean technology is potentially able to reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent and make aviation fuel climate neutral. This, however, sounds too good to be true and requires an investment of DKK 400 million to finetune the technology.

"We make some of the world’s best food and we will continue to do so – both for vegetarians and for people who eat meat. Moreover, we can and will provide Danish solutions to the global climate challenges,” says Anne Lawaetz Arhnung.