Is Local Food More Environmentally Friendly? The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Consuming Imported vs. Domestically Produced Food

Misak Avetisyan, Thomas Hertel, Gregory Sampson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

With the increased interest in the ‘carbon footprint’ of global economic activities, civil society, governments and the private sector are calling into question the wisdom of transporting food products across continents instead of consuming locally produced food. While the proposition that local consumption will reduce one’s carbon footprint may seem obvious at first glance, this conclusion is not at all clear when one considers that the economic emissions intensity of food production varies widely across regions. In this paper we concentrate on the tradeoff between production and transport emissions reductions by testing the following hypothesis: Substitution of domestic for imported food will reduce the direct and indirect Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with consumption. We focus on ruminant livestock since it has the highest emissions intensity across food sectors, but we also consider other food products as well, and alternately perturb the mix of domestic and imported
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)415-462
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
StatePublished - Jul 2014

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