Research by The Sustainable Consumption Institute claims food that families now take for granted, such as meat and fresh vegetables, could become too expensive for many if global temperatures rise in line with the current trends and reach 4°C within the lifetime of many people.
Even if families continue to take steps to lower their carbon emissions from energy use, global farming emissions will continue to rise because of our growing appetite for energy-intensive foods and a rising demand to meet just basic living standards across the world, suggest researchers in a statement.
Only by reducing consumption of energy, food, goods and services can we have a good chance of minimising the harmful effects of global warming.
Should the temperature rise above 2°C, consumers could find their shopping habits are radically altered.
Most meats would soar in price, meaning families could have to adapt to a meat-free diets, the possibility of failing crops and staple food sources such as rice and wheat potentially being be devastated.
Globally, where non-carbon emissions such as those produced by agriculture make up around a quarter of total emissions – compared to around 10% in the UK – the picture is even more stark. Rice crops, for example, could be reduced by about 30% in the subcontinent in a '4°C' world, leading to potential food shortages and hunger.
During a two-year study, led by Dr Alice Bows from the University of Manchester, the researchers calculated the emissions of all goods consumed in the UK; including foods produced overseas but eaten here. Most models only include goods produced in the UK, reducing the levels of emissions recorded.
Many climate experts believe a slight rise in UK temperatures would be beneficial for the farming industry as it yields could increase.
However, as temperatures continue to rise, farmers would need to use more and more fertiliser on their crops and some livestock would not be as productive. Both would lead to a further rise in greenhouse gas emissions.
More drastic options include the concepts of indoor farms, lab-grown meat and community cooking centres to replace kitchens and reduce emissions from industry and households.
"The failure of the global community to turn rhetoric into reality and put meaningful policies in place to urgently cut emissions means that we are facing future temperature increases around 4°C which will be devastating to agriculture and fundamentally alter food provision," said Alice Bows, in a statement.