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

The NFS is the culmination of more than 2 years worth of meetings and discussions with market leaders, academics, policymakers and the public.

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

The report, which is more than 150 pages long, sets out 14 recommendations for the UK government to consider, including financial rewards, reporting and trade standards and targets for long-lasting modification in the food system..

The first part of the strategy, released in July 2020, offered suggestions for the government to attend to food insecurity and hunger in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The freshly published second part has actually the mentioned objective of offering a “thorough strategy for transforming the food system”..

In this Q&A, Carbon Brief explains and takes a look at the report how its suggestions align– or do not line up– with the UKs climate targets and decarbonisation goals.

Last week, part 2 of Englands National Food Strategy (NFS) was published, supplying a broad summary of the state of the “food system”– an all-encompassing term that covers the production, processing, transport and consumption of food– in England..

What is the National Food Strategy?

The response to recentlys release saw members of parliament, celeb chefs and even rockstars weighing in on its significance.

Some have actually criticised the recommendation to tax wholesale sugar and salt as unfair or as disproportionately affecting lower-income households. Others say that the measures set out in the report do not go far enough towards making the food system more sustainable.

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

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

” [The report] brings everybody around the table for a dialogue about what kind of system do we have, what type of system do we want to bring, what are the trade-offs and could governments do things differently.”.

Its aim was to provide a roadmap for changing the food system from its present state to one that is healthier for the world and the population..

However, the NFS has definitely brought these issues to the leading edge, Edward Davey, the worldwide engagement director of the Food and Land Use Coalition, tells Carbon Brief. He explains:.

The scope of the report covers England alone, it keeps in mind that the home nations “food systems are so securely linked as to be in places inextricable”. It continues that it hopes the devolved federal governments “might in turn discover some beneficial ideas” in the technique.

The report itself calls the food system “both a disaster and a miracle”. While the existing food system can feeding the “most significant international population in human history”, it states, this comes at a high ecological cost. The report notes:.

” The international food system is the single most significant contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, dry spell, freshwater contamination and the collapse of aquatic wildlife. It is the second-biggest contributor to environment modification, after the energy industry.”.

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

Why is the food method crucial for taking on climate modification?

Almost half of all food-related emissions are because of agriculture, consisting of rearing animals. The methane produced by cows and other ruminants is “estimated to have triggered a 3rd of overall worldwide warming considering that the commercial transformation”, the report notes.

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

Greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector as a portion of the 2008 emissions in that sector. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

Attempting to create a much healthier population while farming in a less harmful method needs collaboration across disciplines, Davey informs Carbon Brief. He states:.

Virtually all of the gains made in the food sector have been due to cleaner energy and increased efficiency in the energy sector. Changes due to farming have been minimal– as seen by the big green bar in the chart below.

” Theres quite a great deal of siloed believing about the food system. So, from the viewpoint of integrated nationwide policymaking that provides, its great.”.

Research study recommends that the food system is responsible for about one-third of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. And the numbers are about the very same for the UK, Dr Marco Springmann, a population health scientist at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, tells Carbon Brief. (The NFS report puts that figure at 19%, but different studies draw different boundaries around what counts as the food sector.).

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

” Without attending to the emissions of the food system, it will not be possible to fulfill those environment change obligations [set out by law] and to add to mitigating environment change.”.

The food system has actually seen substantially smaller decreases in sector-wide emissions because 2008 as compared to the economy as a whole: economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions have actually decreased by almost one-third considering that 2008, but food-related emissions have actually decreased by just 13% over the exact same time..

What parts of the food strategy could make the biggest impact on climate modification?

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

The proposed framework uses the “three compartment design”, which aims for a balance 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 “develop a much better food system”. Presenting mandatory reporting on a range of metrics for food business employing more than 250 individuals. These metrics would include the tonnage of food waste generated.Creating a nationwide food system information programme, which would permit organizations and the federal government to assess their progress on the objectives laid out in the report.

A lot of the recommendations made in the report relate in some way to climate change or ecological sustainability. These recommendations include:.

” The question is how quickly will those reforms actually resolve the environment obstacle … I believe the jurys out. Is it not as enthusiastic as it should be, from the point of view of what the land sector needs to do to attain the UK nationwide targets?

What are the limitations of the food method in attending to climate modification?

” There are currently lots of meat replaces on the market and even more so when you consider natural meat substitutes like more beans, lentils and those kinds of things … Explaining more plainly that healthy and sustainable diet doesnt necessarily need to consist of processed meat options would have been essential, but that was missed there and instead this sort of pro-business angle was taken.”.

Gill also notes that the report, while thorough, does not totally consider the unintended repercussions of its suggestions. A much higher percentage of fresh fruits and veggies is wasted than meat. The recommendations to consume less meat may increase the amount of food waste.

The suggestion towards investing in innovation lists alternative proteins as an essential area in requirement of research funding. Springmann says, the alternative-protein market is already very strong. He informs Carbon Brief:.

” Another thing that seems to be missing out on is that foresighting, wheres the world going to from other sectors … Theres going to be a change in farming … And its going to take years [for the suggestions in the report] to come to fulfillment by which time the world might have changed.”.

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

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

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

” If you take the food system as a holistic thing, then you really need to resolve all kinds of problems. And if you wish to address correctly the ecological issues, plus the health issues, you really need to attend to the overconsumption of animal-sourced foods in our diet plans.”.

The recommendations “seem to be nearly sort of looking in reverse rather than looking forward”, Prof Maggie Gill of the University of Aberdeen and chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, tells Carbon Brief. She adds:.

The commissioning of the report– it was led by business person and restaurateur Henry Dimbleby– suggests the report itself “reveals a bit of a manipulated focus” towards business-focused solutions, Springmann states.

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

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

Minimizing meat intake would also help relieve the stress 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 using up the huge bulk of that land.

Sharelines from this story.

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

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

Establishing the technique will include gathering data on farming productivity, priority nature areas for preservation (such as existing peatlands) and highly polluted locations. It will likewise build on work such as Englands trees and peat action plans– released earlier this year– in order to recognize the land finest matched for nature repair..

As a result, the report says, the food system is being “asked to carry out an accomplishment of balancings” in supplying sufficient land to produce the needed food, but likewise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In order to address these contending interests, the report calls for a nationwide land-use method to finest assign land to nature, carbon sequestration and farming.

The chart below shows that when the carbon sequestration “chance cost” (yellow bars) is added to the emissions of numerous food groups (teal bars), the carbon cost of lamb and goat meat in fact exceeds that of beef, due to the large quantities of land required to graze those animals and their hunger for tree saplings.

The report keeps in mind that with the best rewards for farmers to repurpose their land, the technique could be equally useful towards farmers and the environment. It specifies:.

Nature-based services, such as peatland repair and afforestation, are expected to play a major function in lots of countries and companies net-zero targets, but a lot of these need the repurposing of agricultural land.

The chart below programs how all land in the UK is designated (left) and just how much overseas land is utilized to produce food for the UK (right).

” The type of land that could provide the biggest environmental advantages is frequently not very agriculturally productive. The most efficient 33% of English land produces around 60% of the overall output of the land, while the bottom 33% only produces 15%.”.

Overall carbon costs (kgCO2e) per kg of different foodstuff. The teal bars indicate the direct emissions related to the supply chain of each product, while the yellow bars show the carbon “chance expense”, implying the quantity of CO2 that could be sequestered in the land used to produce that food. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

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

The right-hand side of the chart, utilizing the very same scale, reveals how much land is used overseas to produce food for the UK. The combined land area for rearing beef and lamb for UK usage is bigger than the UK itself. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

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

The government has devoted to producing a reaction to the technique, including propositions for new legislation, within the next six months..

The report itself calls the food system “both a disaster and a wonder”. The proposed structure utilizes the “three compartment design”, which strives for a balance in between semi-natural land, low-yield farmland and high-yield farmland to meet 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 “produce 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 enable services and the government to examine their development on the goals laid out in the report. The right-hand side of the chart, utilizing the very same scale, shows how much land is used overseas to produce food for the UK. The teal bars show the direct emissions associated with the supply chain of each product, while the yellow bars reveal the carbon “opportunity expense”, meaning the quantity of CO2 that might be sequestered in the land utilized to produce that food.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *