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Transforming our food system can tackle climate change, and cities play a leading role

The global food system currently accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions. A circular economy for food could almost halve these. As the consumers of three quarters of all natural resources, cities can drive the transformation.

Food is at the forefront of climate action

Although currently part of the problem, our food system represents a huge opportunity to tackle climate change, and the circular economy is a pathway to the change we need. A circular economy applied to the way we produce and manage food resources could cut emissions by 49% (56 billion tonnes of CO2e) in 2050, reduce the impact on farm-level biodiversity by an average of 50% by 2030, and feed our growing population without depleting nature. As a result, food system reform has come to the forefront of the climate debate.

Cities can lead the transformation

By 2018, more than half the world’s population lived in cities (a number expected to keep climbing). Cities consume over 75% of natural resources, are responsible for over 50% of global waste, and emit up to 80% of global greenhouse gases. It is projected that 80% of all food will be consumed in cities by 2050. They are black holes sucking in food and resources.

With thanks to the following experts and cities for their contributions:

Tansy Robertson-Fall, Senior Editor, Ellen MacArthur Foundation



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Ellen MacArthur Foundation

We work to build a framework for a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.