Does CO2 pollute the environment

High environmental pollution from food transport

Dipl. Oec. troph. Kathi Dittrich

Overseas food make up over two thirds of the transport costs of all food consumed in Germany. Significantly more primary energy, such as gasoline, is consumed and many more pollutants are emitted than with domestic products.

Two scientists from the Institute of Nutritional Science at the University of Giessen determined this on the basis of extensive calculations. 87% of the food consumed in Germany is produced here; 9% come from other European countries and just under 4% from overseas. However, because of the long distances, imports from overseas account for almost 70% of the kilometers traveled by all food.

Imports from Europe are still relatively cheap with 8% transport performance. These figures are also reflected in environmental consumption. Although most of the food from overseas is transported by ship in a relatively environmentally friendly way, it consumes around 11 times more primary energy, emits 11 times as much carbon dioxide (CO2) and 28 times more sulfur dioxide than domestic products. In other words: For 1 kg of vegetables from overseas, 11 kg could be transported within Germany; compared to transport by plane, it is almost 90 kg. Imports from Europe pollute the environment about two to three times more than domestic food. These figures show that significant amounts of energy and CO2 can be saved when transporting food. If only food such as bananas, coffee or tea were imported into Germany that cannot grow due to climatic conditions in this country, more than 22% CO2 equivalents could be saved. If half of the food transported in Germany were shifted from the road to the rail, 16% less CO2 would be released. Consumers who mainly buy local food are therefore making a significant contribution to reducing emissions of climate-damaging gases.

Source: Dittrich, K .: UGB-Forum 1/02, pp. 48-49