A new U.N. study has found that, in order to curb the damage done by climate change, humans must change the way they grow food and raise livestock.
Although transportation and energy have long been a focus for reducing emissions, this study identifies agriculture as another sector in need of attention, The Washington Post reports.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change used the expertise of 107 scientists from 52 countries to explore how land use contributes to warming global temperatures.
The research found that agriculture and forestry are accountable for approximately 23% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. Livestock, particularly cattle, are a primary source of agricultural emissions. The soil on farms is also a contributor because it contains higher levels of nitrous oxide due to manure and fertilizers.
Furthermore, the study discovered that climate change has already begun to threaten food and water supplies by degrading soil quality and increasing the frequency of droughts and extreme weather.
The Washington Post argues that reducing the emissions put off by the agriculture industry will require a large-scale change in diet and cites sustainable land use as a necessary solution.
In a statement about the research, Greenpeace Research Laboratories senior research scientist Reyes Tirado said that in order to “reverse the devastation” on the current food system, society must “shift toward healthy, ecological, plant-based farming.”