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Journal Article

Adjusting agricultural emissions for trade matters for climate change mitigation


Foong,  Adrian
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Pradhan,  Prajal
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Frör,  Oliver
External Organizations;


Kropp,  Jürgen P.
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Supplementary Material (public)

Foong, A., Pradhan, P., Frör, O., Kropp, J. P. (2022): Adjusting agricultural emissions for trade matters for climate change mitigation. - Nature Communications, 13, 3024.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_26977
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in food systems is becoming more challenging as food is increasingly consumed away from producer regions, highlighting the need to consider emissions embodied in trade in agricultural emissions accounting. To address this, our study explores recent trends in trade-adjusted agricultural emissions of food items at the global, regional, and national levels. We find that emissions are largely dependent on a country’s consumption patterns and their agricultural emission intensities relative to their trading partners’. The absolute differences between the production-based and trade-adjusted emissions accounting approaches are especially apparent for major agricultural exporters and importers and where large shares of emission-intensive items such as ruminant meat, milk products and rice are involved. In relative terms, some low-income and emerging and developing economies with consumption of high emission intensity food products show large differences between approaches. Similar trends are also found under various specifications that account for trade and re-exports differently. These findings could serve as an important element towards constructing national emissions reduction targets that consider trading partners, leading to more effective emissions reductions overall.