Q&A: Will England’s National Food Strategy help tackle climate change?

The NFS is the culmination of more than two years worth of meetings and dialogues with industry leaders, academics, policymakers and the general public.

The first part of the technique, published in July 2020, supplied recommendations for the government to attend to food insecurity and cravings in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The recently published 2nd part has the mentioned goal of supplying a “extensive prepare for changing the food system”..

Last week, part two of Englands National Food Strategy (NFS) was published, providing a broad introduction of the state of the “food system”– a comprehensive term that covers the production, processing, transport and intake of food– in England..

The report, which is more than 150 pages long, lays out 14 suggestions for the UK government to think about, including monetary incentives, reporting and trade standards and targets for long-lasting change in the food system..

The government has actually committed to producing a white paper and propositions for future laws in reaction within the next 6 months, although the early action from UK prime minister Boris Johnson has actually been “noncommittal” to a number of the NFS proposals, according to the Guardian.

In this Q&A, Carbon Brief analyzes the report and describes how its suggestions align– or do not align– with the UKs environment targets and decarbonisation goals.

What is the National Food Strategy?

Some have criticised the recommendation to tax wholesale sugar and salt as unjust or as disproportionately affecting lower-income families. Others state that the procedures laid out in the report do not go far adequate towards making the food system more sustainable.

The NFS was commissioned by the UK federal government in 2019 as the first independent review of the governments food policy in nearly three-quarters of a century.

This report by @food_strategy has some interesting and far reaching ideas that would suggest a huge change for the better in our food system and make all of us much healthier. I hope that these strategies will be used up by this government. https://t.co/gl5rZJCrhO— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) July 15, 2021.

Davey includes that, in his view, “every nation in the world would take advantage of doing something of this kind”.

Its goal was to supply a roadmap for transforming the food system from its existing state to one that is healthier for the population and the world..

The reaction to last weeks release saw members of parliament, celeb chefs and even rockstars weighing in on its significance.

The NFS has certainly brought these problems to the forefront, Edward Davey, the global engagement director of the Food and Land Use Coalition, informs Carbon Brief.

” The global food system is the single biggest factor to biodiversity loss, logging, dry spell, freshwater pollution and the collapse of marine wildlife. It is the second-biggest factor to climate change, after the energy market.”.

The report itself calls the food system “both a wonder and a disaster”. While the existing food system is capable of feeding the “most significant global population in human history”, it states, this comes at a high environmental expense. The report notes:.

The scope of the report covers England alone, it notes that the home countries “food systems are so firmly interwoven as to be in places inextricable”. It continues that it hopes the devolved governments “may in turn find some useful ideas” in the technique.

Why is the food strategy important for tackling climate change?

Other significant contributors to the emissions consist of fertiliser, transportation and food production and product packaging..

” Theres quite a lot of siloed thinking about the food system. So, from the perspective of integrated national policymaking that provides, its wonderful.”.

” Without addressing the emissions of the food system, it will not be possible to fulfill those environment change commitments [set out by law] and to contribute to mitigating climate modification.”.

The food system has seen substantially smaller sized decreases in sector-wide emissions considering that 2008 as compared to the economy as a whole: economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions have actually reduced by nearly one-third considering that 2008, however food-related emissions have reduced by only 13% over the very same time..

Greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector as a portion of the 2008 emissions because sector. By 2018, emissions had decreased by 13%, however none of this modification was due to enhancements in farming. Total emissions reduced by 32% over that same period. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

Nearly half of all food-related emissions are because of agriculture, consisting of rearing animals. The methane produced by cows and other ruminants is “approximated to have caused a third of total global warming since the industrial revolution”, the report notes.

Research suggests that the food system is accountable for about one-third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. And the numbers have to do with the exact same for the UK, Dr Marco Springmann, a population health researcher at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, informs Carbon Brief. (The NFS report puts that figure at 19%, but different research studies draw different limits around what counts as the food sector.).

Under its dedications to the Paris Agreement, the UK has actually vowed to decrease emissions from 1990 levels by 68% by 2030. The government has actually also set a legally binding target to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Springmann states:.

Attempting to create a much healthier population while farming in a less harmful way needs partnership throughout disciplines, Davey tells Carbon Brief. He states:.

Moreover, essentially all of the gains made in the food sector have actually been because of cleaner energy and increased efficiency in the energy sector. Modifications due to agriculture have been negligible– as seen by the large green bar in the chart below.

What parts of the food technique could make the biggest effect on climate change?

Guaranteeing funding for farming payments till at least 2029 at the present level of ₤ 2.4 bn in order to aid in the transition to sustainable farming. The report likewise states that at least ₤ 500m of this ought to be “ring-fenced” for schemes that motivate habitat restoration and carbon sequestration, such as peatland repair. Creating a “rural land use framework” that will encourage on the very best manner in which any offered piece of land need to be utilized– whether for nature, something, agriculture or bioenergy else. The proposed structure uses the “3 compartment model”, which strives for a balance in between semi-natural land, low-yield farmland and high-yield farmland to satisfy the targets of both sustainability and food production.Investing ₤ 1bn in UK Research and Innovation and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as smaller centres to spur innovation to “produce a better food system”. The funds would be focused on innovating vegetables and fruit production, methane suppressants and alternative proteins, to name a few locations. Lowering meat usage by 30% over the next years. The report stops brief of advising a tax on meat to attain this aim (as it suggests for sugar and salt purchased wholesale). Instead, it specifies, the federal government should go for “nudging customers into changing their habits”. Presenting mandatory reporting on a variety of metrics for food companies utilizing more than 250 individuals. These metrics would consist of the tonnage of food waste generated.Creating a nationwide food system data program, which would permit organizations and the federal government to evaluate their progress on the objectives laid out in the report. The programme would consist of both the land-use data and the compulsory reporting data described above. Bringing these 2 kinds of information together, the report composes, will assist “produce a clear, accessible and progressing photo of the impact our diet has on nature, environment and public health”.

” The concern is how rapidly will those reforms really attend to the climate obstacle … I believe the jurys out. Is it not as ambitious as it should be, from the point of view of what the land sector requires to do to accomplish the UK national targets?

Davey calls the suggestions a “excellent starting point”. He includes:.

Many of the suggestions made in the report relate in some way to environment modification or ecological sustainability. These recommendations include:.

What are the constraints of the food method in addressing environment modification?

The commissioning of the report– it was led by entrepreneur and restaurateur Henry Dimbleby– indicates the report itself “reveals a little bit of a skewed focus” towards business-focused services, Springmann states.

The report also “truly shied” far from taking a strong position on reducing meat consumption, Springmann states, with impacts on both the environment and public health. He says:.

The food system “is extremely complicated”, Gill states, “but I dont think thats any excuse for not actually highlighting a few of those concerns right at the start”.

” If you take the food system as a holistic thing, then you really require to attend to all kinds of issues. And if you wish to address correctly the ecological issues, plus the health concerns, you actually need to deal with the overconsumption of animal-sourced foods in our diets.”.

The suggestions “seem to be nearly sort of looking in reverse rather than looking forward”, Prof Maggie Gill of the University of Aberdeen, informs Carbon Brief. She adds:.

Limousin beef livestock in a barn feeding on hay, Selside UK. Credit: John Bentley/ Alamy Stock Photo.

” There are currently a lot of meat substitutes on the market and much more so when you think about natural meat substitutes like more beans, lentils and those kinds of things … Explaining more clearly that healthy and sustainable diet does not always require to include processed meat alternatives would have been essential, but that was missed out on there and instead this sort of pro-business angle was taken.”.

” Another thing that appears to be missing is that foresighting, wheres the world going to from other sectors … Theres going to be a transformation in farming … And its going to take years [for the recommendations in the report] to come to fruition by which time the world may have altered.”.

Gill also notes that the report, while extensive, does not fully think about the unexpected repercussions of its recommendations. For example, a much higher proportion of fresh fruits and veggies is squandered than meat. So the suggestions to consume less meat might increase the amount of food waste.

The suggestion towards investing in development lists alternative proteins as a key location in requirement of research study financing. Nevertheless, Springmann states, the alternative-protein industry is currently extremely strong. He tells Carbon Brief:.

How does the food method address the completing interests of farming land use and land usage for carbon sequestration?

” Implementation of any of those recommendations really requires political will … The recommendations themselves might have been more progressive, but even the ones that are there dont seem to resonate extremely much with policymakers that are in power at the minute.”.

Receive our complimentary Daily Briefing for an absorb of the previous 24 hours of climate and energy media coverage, or our Weekly Briefing for a round-up of our content from the past seven days. Simply enter your email listed below:.

The UKs Climate Change Committee (CCC) has approximated that simply over 20% of farming land must be rewilded or transformed to bioenergy or other, non-agricultural crops in order to achieve net-zero by 2050. The NFS report states:.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has already indicated his hesitancy to support some of the policy suggestions laid out in the report. This does not bode well for the reports adoption, cautions Springmann:.

Reducing meat consumption would likewise help reduce the strain on land resources, the report finds. About 70% of the landmass of the UK is devoted to agriculture, with feed and pastures for beef and lamb taking up the vast majority of that land.

The right-hand side of the chart, using the exact same scale, reveals how much land is utilized abroad to produce food for the UK. The combined land area for raising beef and lamb for UK intake is larger than the UK itself. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

As an outcome, the report says, the food system is being “asked to perform a feat of acrobatics” in providing sufficient land to produce the required food, but likewise to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions.

Nature-based solutions, such as peatland restoration and afforestation, are anticipated to play a major function in lots of nations and companies net-zero targets, but a number of these need the repurposing of farming land.

Sharelines from this story.

The report notes that with the right incentives for farmers to repurpose their land, the method might be mutually helpful towards farmers and the environment. It specifies:.

Total carbon costs (kgCO2e) per kilogram of various food items. The teal bars indicate the direct emissions associated with the supply chain of each product, while the yellow bars reveal the carbon “opportunity expense”, indicating the quantity of CO2 that might be sequestered in the land used to produce that food. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

The report itself calls the food system “both a disaster and a miracle”. The proposed structure utilizes the “3 compartment model”, which makes every effort for a balance in between semi-natural land, low-yield farmland and high-yield farmland to satisfy the targets of both sustainability and food production.Investing ₤ 1bn in UK Research and Innovation and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), as well as smaller centres to spur development to “develop a much better food system”. These metrics would consist of the tonnage of food waste generated.Creating a national food system information program, which would allow businesses and the government to examine their development on the goals laid out in the report. The right-hand side of the chart, using the same scale, reveals how much land is utilized abroad to produce food for the UK. The teal bars suggest the direct emissions associated with the supply chain of each item, while the yellow bars show the carbon “chance cost”, suggesting the quantity of CO2 that could be sequestered in the land utilized to produce that food.

” The type of land that could provide the best ecological advantages is often not really agriculturally productive. The most productive 33% of English land produces around 60% of the total output of the land, while the bottom 33% only produces 15%.”.

The chart listed below programs that when the carbon sequestration “chance cost” (yellow bars) is contributed to the emissions of various food groups (teal bars), the carbon expense of lamb and goat meat in fact surpasses that of beef, due to the large quantities of land required to graze those animals and their cravings for tree saplings.

In order to resolve these contending interests, the report requires a nationwide land-use method to best designate land to nature, carbon sequestration and farming.

Developing the method will include gathering data on agricultural efficiency, priority nature locations for conservation (such as existing peatlands) and highly polluted areas. It will likewise develop on work such as Englands trees and peat action plans– released previously this year– in order to recognize the land best matched for nature repair..

The government has actually devoted to producing an action to the method, including propositions for brand-new legislation, within the next six months..

The chart listed below demonstrate how all land in the UK is designated (left) and just how much abroad land is utilized to produce food for the UK (best).

” Globally, the greatest potential carbon benefit of consuming less meat would not in fact be the decrease in emissions, but the chance to repurpose land so that it sequesters carbon.”.