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


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.

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The study is part of the OPUS project 'Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet. Supported by a grant from the Nordea Foundation. We thank the Danish National Food Institute and 2.-0 LCA Consultants for providing the data on the volumes of food and beverages produced to make up the three diets

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Correspondence to Henrik Saxe.

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Saxe, H., Larsen, T.M. & Mogensen, L. The global warming potential of two healthy Nordic diets compared with the average Danish diet. Climatic Change 116, 249–262 (2013).

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  • Impact Category
  • Global Warming Potential
  • Consequential Life Cycle Assessment
  • Total Global Warming Potential
  • Lower Global Warming Potential