Scientists at the University of California, Irvine, and other universities have made the most clear line yet connecting consumers of agricultural produce in wealthy countries in Asia, Europe, and North America with a rise in greenhouse gas emissions in less-developed nations, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere.
According to a research published today inScience, trade in land-use emissions which result from a combination of agriculture and land-use change increased from 5.1 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (when considering in other greenhouse gas emissions such as nitrous oxide and methane) per year in 2004 to 5.8 gigatons in 2017.
Specifically, scientists discovered that land-use variation, involving clearing carbon-absorbing forests, in order to create pastures and farms, contributed roughly three-quarters of the amount of greenhouse gases driven by global agriculture operations between 2004 and 2017.
According to the UCI professor, about a quarter of all human greenhouse gas emissions are from land use. We demonstrate that large parts of these emissions in lower-income countries are related to consumption in more developed countries.
The most significant source of land-use-change emissions during the study was Brazil, where the use of natural vegetation such as forests to make room for livestock pastures and farms has resulted in a massive increase in land use in the country, and Indonesia, where ancient carbon-storing peats have been burned or otherwise eliminated to enable cultivation of plants to produce palm oil for exporting to wealthy countries.
According to the researchers, about 22 percent of the world''s crop and pastureland 1 billion hectares is used to cultivate products destined for overseas consumers. Commodities such as rice, wheat, corn, soybeans, palm oil, and other oil seeds occupy nearly one third of the land used for traded goods and contribute roughly half of traded greenhouse emissions.
In the early phase, China was a net exporter of agricultural goods, but by 2017, it had become a importer of goods and land-use emissions, partly from Brazil. At the same time, Brazils exports to Europe and the United States, which had been the nation''s largest trading partners in agricultural goods in 2004, decreased.
In 2017, the survey concluded that the largest source of export-related emissions was Brazil, followed by Argentina, Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, and Australia. The largest net importers of goods related to such emissions were China, the United States, Japan, and Germany, with the United Kingdom, Italy, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia following.
Human land use practices have resulted in significant ecosystem disruption, decreased biodiversity, decreased water resources, and increased pollution pollution in local environments.
Exporters producing the highest levels of land use emissions are also heavily dependent on export agriculture as a factor in gross domestic product, according to a social profile.
We hope that this study will increase awareness of the role of international commerce in reducing land-use emissions. In turn, importers may purchase clean practices to reduce the most emissions-intensive imports and discourage regions from becoming environmentally destructive. We recognize that several regions, including Europe, the United States, and China, have witnessed an increase in supply chain transparency in recent years.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, the University of California, Davis, Stanford University, Chinas Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, Peking University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences were among the sponsors of the project. Germany''s Ludwig-Maximilian University is also the recipient of the National Science Foundation and the ClimateWorks Foundation.