Why food needs to be at the centre of our climate plate
Why savouring glorious food in our climate plan is an opportunity we can all get behind.
As we follow the back and forth of the US election result, we also remember that this week marks one year until COP26 – the next round of the UN’s annual negotiations on how to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement to reign in run away climate change.
A year from now, world leaders and climate experts will meet in Glasgow, hosted by the UK government. It’s a big moment for the UK on the international stage – our chance to meet the ambition of the Paris Agreement, and set the agenda.
With the US tipping in and out of the picture (Trump took the US out of the Paris Agreement, and Biden has pledged to rejoin), and countries like China, Japan and South Korea stepping up their climate pledges, one important element is missing in action: food. Both an integral part of our everyday lives and a huge piece of our individual and collective impact on our environment, food needs to be considered at every level of climate policy, from local commitments to national plans.
In fact, new research published this week shows that even if we stopped emissions from fossil fuels tomorrow, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal to prevent dangerous warming.
That’s why Feedback is calling for the Prime Minister to make sure food – and specifically food waste and sustainable diets – is a core part of the UK’s climate plan, due to be announced next month. You can join us by writing to Boris Johnson too.
Many of us are aware of the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels and flying but the food on our plate can often be overlooked. Food represents all the precious resources required to produce it, including land and water. The environmental footprint of our food increases for products like factory farmed meat as it requires large amounts of feed. Furthermore, food waste represents a waste of the precious resources used to produce food and also when sent to landfill leads to emissions.
Cutting food waste in half and switching to healthy, low-meat, plant-based diets in industrialised, high-income countries has huge benefits for our health and the health of our planet. Yet, so far, food waste and sustainable diets are not mentioned in a single country’s climate plan.
The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for a resilient food system, but it has also allowed us to re-evaluate what is possible. It has exposed our risky dependency on global food supply chains and impacted our food security. In the UK for example since the lockdown began, four times as many adults are experiencing food insecurity as were before it started. It has also brought to light that the same issues that drive climate change, such as food waste and excessive meat consumption, also increase the risk of pandemics, according to a new report by the IPBES. Preventing pandemics rather than reacting to them, like climate change, will save lives and help protect our natural world.
We can't afford to let this opportunity go to waste
At a time of climate emergency, it’s vital that we all pull together to reduce food waste. We rely on donations from our supporters to carry out this vital work. Will you help us end food waste?