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The Science & data


Environmental Science & data at our core

Environmental research and climate data are the backbone of everything we do at Klimato. Our science-backed data and certified methodologies is what powers our products and services - and ultimately enables consumers and businesses to make environmentally conscious decisions to reduce food related emissions. 


The relationship between food and climate

Our global food system accounts for one third of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, which means that our current eating habits have a bigger impact on the climate than all global transport combined. This calls for an urgent sustainable transformation of the food system. Luckily, something as simple as a climate-friendly diet can be the solution to all of this. But how do we know which food is actually climate-friendly then? Well, let us welcome Science to join us at the table.

Every food product goes through several stages during the production process, including raw material extraction, farming, factory processing and transportation. All these stages release various amounts of emissions, commonly referred to as greenhouse gas emissions. The most common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The amount of emissions released is measured in carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) to have one standardised unit to compare the effect of different gas emissions. This CO2e measurement is thus referred to as the carbon footprint of a food product or a meal. When emissions reach high levels in the air, they get trapped in the atmosphere which eventually increases the temperature on earth - and we experience climate change. 

So the relationship between climate change and what we put on our plate is that our current diets consist of too many food products with carbon footprints too high for the planet to cope with. To reduce the climate impact from food, we need to make a shift to our eating habits by cooking, serving and eating meals made with food products that have lower carbon footprints.

The klimato database

The Klimato Database has been developed through systematic literature review of different food products’ carbon footprints. The review includes literature sources such as peer reviewed papers, conference proceedings and open source databases published from 2009 to 2023. The studies follow attributional Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), an ISO-standardized method (ISO 14040-14044) used to calculate the carbon footprint of products, services, and processes. 

The Klimato Database contains country specific carbon footprint data for both conventional and organic production methods. It contains over 2,500 unique ingredients in more than 10,000 variations (different countries of origin and production methods). 

The carbon footprint values in the database are reported in kg CO2e/kg of food. Meat products are expressed considering their retail weight. Klimato includes agricultural production, processing, packaging and transport. Food losses occurring at all stages are also included. When statistical Land Use Change (contribution to climate change when the land transformation occurred in the past 20 years) is included in the assessed studies, Klimato includes it in the overall carbon footprint of food.

The Klimato Database is a collection of emissions factors that is used to assess the climate impact of the food procured by food businesses. Moreover, it is used to calculate the carbon footprint of the recipes served by food service providers. Ultimately, the recipes are rated based on a set of thresholds and expressed by climate labels that Klimato developed based on the latest climate science.

Ingredient Variations
Unique Ingredients
Emission Factors
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By partnering and collaborating with prominent research institutes, we can ensure that our carbon footprint data and methodologies follow best practice and are constantly updated to reflect the most recent scientific findings and research.

The Klimato Database is developed by Klimato’s own science team, following research procedures and methodologies reviewed and approved by WRI (World Resources Institute) and IVL (Swedish Environmental Research Institute).

Klimato and Coolfood – WRI’s initiative to curb diet-related emissions – are working together to ensure that carbon footprint methodologies in the food sector are robust and aligned. 

The klimato Labelling system

The Klimato labels give two key pieces of information: the absolute CO2e emissions per serving (kg CO2e/serving) and a rating (A-E) based on the carbon intensity which is the carbon footprint (CF) of a standardized full-size meal of 400g. This allows for fair comparison between servings with different portion sizes. The reference value of the full-size meal is calculated considering the recommended amount of food that corresponds to a healthy and sustainable diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission and that a meal accounts for 30% of the daily intake.

To rate the dishes, we calculate their carbon intensity, that is the CF value of the dish normalized to 400g. Depending on the carbon intensity, the dish is then rated based on the following tiers:

  • Very Low (A) - Carbon intensity < 0.40 kg CO2e
  • Low (B) - 0.40 kg CO2e ≤ carbon intensity < 0.90 kg CO2e
  • Medium (C) - 0.90 kg CO2e ≤ carbon intensity < 1.80 kg CO2e
  • High (D) - 1.80 kg CO2e ≤ carbon intensity < 2.60 kg CO2e
  • Very High (E) - carbon intensity ≥ 2.60 kg CO2e
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science-backed thresholds

The foundation of our five-tiered system is rooted in the latest climate science. The "Very Low" and "Low" thresholds align with the 2030 and 2050 targets of the Paris Agreement, aiming to keep global temperature increase to well below 2°C from pre-industrial levels. Higher thresholds signify a potential overshooting of those limits. The thresholds are defined in the following way: 

0.40 kg CO2e/meal
Klimato estimated first the food-related GHG emissions per person per day in Europe in 2015. Considering that one meal accounts for 30% of daily emissions, we obtained the average emissions per person per meal. We then considered that the global food-related GHG emissions need to be reduced by 72% by 2050 relative to 2015 levels, if the world is to meet the Paris Agreement goal to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

0.90 kg CO2e/meal
This threshold has been calculated following the same reasoning, considering in this case that the global food-related GHG emissions need to be reduced by 38% by 2030 relative to 2015 levels to make sure that the world is on the necessary pathway to 2050. This threshold is in line with the threshold the World Resources Institute utilizes to define Coolfood Meals.

1.80 kg CO2e/meal
To calculate this threshold  we used the Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Carbon Emissions (TCRE) metric, which directly relates global mean temperature increase to GHG emissions to date. More specifically, we used TCRE to estimate the average amount of CO2e per person in the world in 2050 (9.772 billion global population in that year) that corresponds to a global temperature increase of 2.5°C. Assuming that 31% of these emissions would come from the food sector, we then calculated the food-related emissions per person and meal that is associated with a temperature increase of 2.5°C.

2.60 kg CO2e/meal
To define the high threshold, we used TCRE to estimate the average amount of CO2e per person in the world in 2050 that corresponds to a global temperature increase of 3°C. Assuming that 31% of these emissions would come from the food sector, we then calculated the food-related emissions per person and meal related to a temperature increase of 3°C by 2050.

Continuous improvement

Although we are proud to have one of the most comprehensive food climate databases in the world, we are constantly working to stay up to date with latest research in order to provide environmental impact values in line with the latest climate science.



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