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The global warming potential of two healthy Nordic diets compared with the average Danish diet


  • Henrik Saxe


  • Thomas Larsen
  • Lisbeth Mogensen


The potential greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the production of food for three different diets are compared using consequential Life Cycle Assessment. Diet 1 is an Average Danish Diet (ADD); diet 2 is based on the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations (NNR), whilst diet 3 is a New Nordic Diet (NND) developed by the OPUS project. The NND contains locally produced Nordic foods where more than 75 % is organically produced. NNR and NND include less meat and more fruit and vegetables than the ADD. All diets were adjusted to contain a similar energy and protein content. The GHG emissions from the provision of NNR and NND were lower than for ADD, 8 % and 7 % respectively. If GHG emissions from transport (locally produced versus imported food) are also taken into account, the difference in GHG emissions between NND and ADD increases to 12 %. If the production method (organic versus conventional) is taken into account so that the ADD contains the actual ratio of organically produced food (6.6 %) and the NND contains 80 %, the GHG emissions for the NND are only 6 % less than for the ADD. When the NND was optimised to be more climate friendly, the global warming potential of the NND was 27 % lower than it was for the ADD. This was achieved by including less beef, and only including organic produce if the GHG emissions are lower than for the conventional version, or by substituting all meat with legumes, dairy products and eggs. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Henrik Saxe & Thomas Larsen & Lisbeth Mogensen, 2013. "The global warming potential of two healthy Nordic diets compared with the average Danish diet," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 116(2), pages 249-262, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:climat:v:116:y:2013:i:2:p:249-262
    DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0495-4

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Weidema, Bo Pedersen, 2009. "Using the budget constraint to monetarise impact assessment results," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(6), pages 1591-1598, April.
    2. Vieux, F. & Darmon, N. & Touazi, D. & Soler, L.G., 2012. "Greenhouse gas emissions of self-selected individual diets in France: Changing the diet structure or consuming less?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 91-101.
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    1. repec:spr:climat:v:142:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10584-017-1912-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Peter Scarborough & Paul Appleby & Anja Mizdrak & Adam Briggs & Ruth Travis & Kathryn Bradbury & Timothy Key, 2014. "Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans in the UK," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 179-192, July.
    3. Rehkamp, Sarah & Canning, Patrick, 2016. "The Effects of American Diets on Food System Energy Use," 2016 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, 2016, Boston, Massachusetts 235896, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Rehkamp, Sarah & Azzam, Azzeddine & Gustafson, Christopher R., 2015. "The Cost Savings of Changes to Healthier Diets in the U.S," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205608, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Thomas B√łker Lund & David Watson & Sinne Smed & Lotte Holm & Thomas Eisler & Annemette Nielsen, 2017. "The Diet-related GHG Index: construction and validation of a brief questionnaire-based index," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 503-517, February.
    6. Abeliotis, Konstadinos & Costarelli, Vassiliki & Anagnostopoulos, Konstadinos, 2016. "The Effect of Different Types of Diet on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Greece," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 7(1).

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