Hence, together with colleagues, he has developed a new approach that explicitly takes the hidden “carbon costs” of land use into account, the so-called “Carbon Benefit Index”.

Making hidden carbon costs visible

The “Carbon Benefit Index” identifies how local changes in crops, yield levels and production processes affect global greenhouse gas emissions and the sequestration of carbon in plants and soil around the world. “Whether, for example, rapeseed is cultivated instead of wheat, how much yield is provided by the cultivated varieties, and whether the land is intensively or extensively cultivated makes a huge difference,” Beringer explains.

With the help of their innovative approach, the authors can show, among other things, that our eating habits are connected to much more greenhouse gas emissions than previously assumed. According to their findings, the food consumption of people in Europe contributes to global warming as much as the total remaining energy consumption and all other goods taken together.