Carbon Footprint Reduction by Transitioning to a Diet Consistent with the Danish Climate-Friendly Dietary Guidelines: A Comparison of Different Carbon Footprint Databases

Ellen Trolle*, Matilda Nordman, Anne Dahl Lassen, Tracey A. Colley, Lisbeth Mogensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Dietary transitions are important for combating many of the environmental challenges humanity is facing today and reducing the global burden of disease. Different dietary patterns are associated with substantially different carbon footprints (CFs). This study aims to estimate the potential CF reduction on a transition from the current Danish diet to a plant-rich diet consistent with the Danish food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) and to compare results obtained from the use of two different CF databases. Dietary intake data for adults aged 18-64 years from the national dietary survey 2011-2013 were used to calculate the CF of the current diet, and this was compared with the estimated CF of the plant-rich diet modelled for the FBDG. Calculations were carried out using an attributional life cycle assessment (LCA) database (AU-DTU data) and compared to calculations using a top-down hybrid consequential LCA database (BCD data). The transition from the current diet to the plant-rich diet showed a substantial estimated CF reduction of 31% with AU-DTU data, and a greater reduction with BCD data (43%). Ruminant meat reduction was the largest contributor to this CF reduction, especially with the use of BCD data, and other animal-based foods also contribute considerably to the CF reduction, especially with AU-DTU data. These results indicate that the choice of LCA methodology and CF database is important in estimation of dietary CF and for the development of guidelines to promote dietary change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1119
JournalFoods
Volume11
Issue number8
Number of pages25
ISSN2304-8158
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Carbon footprint
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Food based dietary guidelines
  • Plant-rich diet
  • Climate impact
  • Sustainability

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