The number of people on the planet has more than doubled in the past 60 years, and as a result of that it’s also been more fuel-intensive to run the machines we rely on to produce food.
But a new study from the University of Leeds shows that while the amount of CO2 we emit is steadily rising, it’s not as big a threat as it once was.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, found that CO2 emissions from the power sector have actually decreased since 1980.
The paper looked at a variety of sectors of the economy from food and beverage to transport and energy, and found that there’s been a marked decrease in CO2 emission in these sectors.
The biggest drop in emissions occurred in the food sector, where emissions have decreased by about a third.
It’s a big improvement on previous estimates, which showed that the food industry would have emitted an average of 6.4 tonnes of CO₂ per person per year by 2030.
“The fact that emissions have gone down and stayed down, it is a pretty big step forward,” said Dr Paul Janssens, lead author of the study and an Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University.
The team examined emissions from food, beverage and industrial sources, looking at emissions from power plants and heating, and energy from cars, refrigerators and power plants.
They found that, despite the increase in CO emissions from cars and heating over the last few decades, the increase is actually lower than the previous estimates.
The energy sector has the biggest CO⁂ emission reduction, with emissions decreasing by an average 1.5 per cent per year.
The researchers also looked at the amount carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles, which has increased by 1.3 per cent each year.
While there have been no significant CO♂ emissions reductions in energy or transport since 1980, they noted that there are several reasons for this.
Firstly, the increased use of hybrid cars has contributed to a rise in the use of natural gas and other energy sources, which have reduced emissions by 2.7 per cent annually.
Second, a number of countries have been investing heavily in the renewable energy sector, such as Denmark and Norway, which are both currently leading the way.
Thirdly, a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that renewable energy accounted for around 17 per cent of global COⓂ emissions in 2030, compared to just 5 per cent in 1980.
“There is still plenty of room for improvement in the way we manage our energy supply and use,” Dr Jansens said.
“But we’re well on our way.”
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the European Research Council (ERC) and the European Union.