A solution to combat climate change?

Reduce your sugar intake to save the planet… This is the observation made by Spanish researchers. The latter proposes rethinking the production of sugar crops for non-food purposes.

It is well known that excess sugar is harmful to health. But reducing its consumption would also have significant advantages in the fight against climate change, argue Spanish researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

According to their study published in the scientific journal Nature SustainabilitySugar has great potential for biofuel production for automobiles, including bioethanol. Based on this hypothesis, the researchers studied three different scenarios in order to determine the potential benefits in terms of climate and sustainability of the use of sugar crops for non-food purposes.

The first use envisaged is the reforestation of EU land used for sugar production. The second scenario concerns the conversion of sugar beet crops to bioethanol production and the third, which is the export of surplus sugar production by the European Union, while Brazil switches from sugar cane crops to ethanol production.

The study concluded that emissions could fall between 20.9 and 54.3 MtCO2e each year if the EU cuts its sugar consumption in line with health guidelines and if surplus Brazilian sugarcane was redirected towards ethanol production. Also, according to the research, these energy savings would be four times greater than the reforestation of EU land and twice the production of ethanol from sugar beet in the European Union.

“This project clearly demonstrates how broad collaboration can help guide society in a more sustainable direction,” says study co-author Jeroen van den Berg, a lecturer-researcher at ICTA-UAB.

To achieve a reduction in sugar consumption, the study encourages the publication of public prevention policies, but also the introduction of a tax on sugar, similar to that used by the European Union on tobacco in recent decades. “Taxes on sugar will not only affect end use, but will also reduce the use of sugar in production sectors, such as beverages.”defines the search.

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For sustainability policies to be effective and efficient, we need to consider all of their impacts on the environmental, social and economic pillars. Changing the way we use sugar crops is an interesting strategy from this point of view, because sugar is arguably the least efficient crop for food, not to mention its negative health effects.”the researchers conclude.

(ETX Daily Up)

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