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

The very first part of the technique, published in July 2020, offered suggestions for the government to address food insecurity and appetite in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. The newly released 2nd part has actually the stated goal of supplying a “comprehensive prepare for transforming the food system”..

The NFS is the conclusion of more than 2 years worth of conferences and discussions with industry leaders, academics, policymakers and the public.

Recently, sequel of Englands National Food Method (NFS) was published, providing a broad summary of the state of the “food system”– a comprehensive term that covers the production, processing, transportation and usage of food– in England..

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

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

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

What is the National Food Strategy?

Its goal was to provide a roadmap for transforming the food system from its present state to one that is healthier for the planet and the population..

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

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

Although the scope of the report covers England alone, it notes that the house countries “food systems are so tightly interwoven regarding be in locations inextricable”. It continues that it hopes the devolved federal governments “might in turn discover some helpful ideas” in the technique.

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

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

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

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

” The international food system is the single most significant factor to biodiversity loss, logging, drought, freshwater pollution and the collapse of water wildlife. It is the second-biggest contributor to climate modification, after the energy market.”.

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

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

Why is the food strategy important for taking on environment change?

” Theres quite a great deal of siloed thinking of the food system. From the point of view of integrated national policymaking that delivers, its great.”.

Additionally, practically all of the gains made in the food sector have been because of cleaner energy and increased performance in the energy sector. Modifications due to farming have been minimal– as seen by the big green bar in the chart below.

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

Under its commitments to the Paris Agreement, the UK has vowed to lower emissions from 1990 levels by 68% by 2030. The government has likewise set a lawfully binding target to achieve 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. By 2018, emissions had minimized by 13%, but none of this modification was due to enhancements in farming. General emissions reduced by 32% over that exact same period. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

Trying to develop a much healthier population while farming in a less destructive way needs cooperation across disciplines, Davey informs Carbon Brief. He states:.

Other major factors to the emissions consist of food, transportation and fertiliser production and packaging..

Almost half of all food-related emissions are due to agriculture, including rearing animals. The methane produced by cows and other ruminants is “estimated to have caused a 3rd of total global warming given that the commercial revolution”, the report notes.

Research suggests that the food system is accountable for about one-third of international greenhouse gas emissions. And the numbers have to do with the same for the UK, Dr Marco Springmann, a population health researcher 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 borders around what counts as the food sector.).

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 decreased by almost one-third because 2008, however food-related emissions have actually decreased by just 13% over the exact same time..

What parts of the food method could make the most significant influence on environment change?

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

Numerous of the recommendations made in the report relate in some method to climate change or environmental sustainability. These recommendations include:.

Ensuring funding for farming payments until at least 2029 at the present level of ₤ 2.4 bn in order to aid in the transition to sustainable farming. The report also states that at least ₤ 500m of this should be “ring-fenced” for schemes that motivate habitat restoration and carbon sequestration, such as peatland restoration. Developing a “rural land use framework” that will recommend on the best way that any provided piece of land must be utilized– whether for nature, something, bioenergy or agriculture else. The proposed structure uses the “three compartment design”, which makes every effort for a balance in between semi-natural land, low-yield farmland and high-yield farmland to fulfill 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), in addition to smaller sized centres to spur development to “create a much better food system”. The funds would be intended at innovating vegetables and fruit production, methane suppressants and alternative proteins, to name a few locations. Lowering meat intake by 30% over the next years. The report stops brief of advising a tax on meat to accomplish this objective (as it recommends for sugar and salt bought wholesale). Instead, it states, the federal government should aim for “nudging consumers into changing their habits”. Presenting obligatory reporting on a range of metrics for food companies utilizing more than 250 people. These metrics would consist of the tonnage of food waste generated.Creating a national food system information programme, which would permit services and the federal government to examine their development on the goals laid out in the report. The programme would consist of both the land-use data and the compulsory reporting information described above. Bringing these two types of data together, the report writes, will help “create a clear, available and evolving photo of the effect our diet plan has on nature, environment and public health”.

” The concern is how quickly will those reforms actually attend to the climate difficulty … I think 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 national targets?

What are the constraints of the food strategy in addressing climate change?

” 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 suggestions in the report] to come to fulfillment by which time the world may have changed.”.

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

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

” There are already plenty of meat substitutes on the marketplace and even more so when you consider natural meat substitutes like more beans, lentils and those examples … Explaining more plainly that sustainable and healthy diet does not always require to consist of processed meat options would have been essential, but that was missed out on there and instead this sort of pro-business angle was taken.”.

The food system “is very complex”, Gill states, “but I dont think thats any reason for not really highlighting some of those concerns right at the start”.

Gill likewise keeps in mind that the report, while extensive, does not totally consider the unintended consequences of its recommendations. For instance, a much greater percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables is wasted than meat. The recommendations to consume less meat might increase the quantity of food waste.

” If you take the food system as a holistic thing, then you truly need to resolve all type of problems. And if you wish to deal with appropriately the ecological concerns, plus the health issues, you actually need to attend to the overconsumption of animal-sourced foods in our diets.”.

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

The suggestion towards investing in innovation lists alternative proteins as a key location in need of research funding. Nevertheless, Springmann says, the alternative-protein market is already really well-developed. He informs Carbon Brief:.

The report also “really shied” away from taking a strong position on decreasing meat usage, Springmann says, with effect on both the environment and public health. He says:.

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

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

Sharelines from this story.

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

In order to deal with these competing interests, the report calls for a national land-use strategy to best designate land to nature, carbon sequestration and agriculture.

The report itself calls the food system “both a disaster and a miracle”. The proposed framework utilizes the “three compartment design”, which makes every effort for a balance 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 sized centres to spur development to “develop a much better food system”. These metrics would consist of the tonnage of food waste generated.Creating a nationwide food system information program, which would enable services and the federal government to examine their progress on the objectives laid out in the report. The right-hand side of the chart, using the exact same scale, reveals how much land is used overseas to produce food for the UK. The teal bars indicate the direct emissions associated with the supply chain of each item, while the yellow bars show the carbon “chance cost”, meaning the quantity of CO2 that might be sequestered in the land utilized to produce that food.

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

Reducing meat intake would likewise assist reduce the stress on land resources, the report discovers. About 70% of the landmass of the UK is dedicated to agriculture, with feed and pastures for beef and lamb taking up the huge majority of that land.

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

The chart below programs that when the carbon sequestration “chance cost” (yellow bars) is added to the emissions of different food groups (teal bars), the carbon cost of lamb and goat meat really goes beyond that of beef, due to the large quantities of land required to graze those animals and their appetite for tree saplings.

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

As an outcome, the report states, the food system is being “asked to carry out a feat of acrobatics” in providing enough land to produce the required food, however likewise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Developing the technique will involve collecting information on farming productivity, priority nature locations for conservation (such as existing peatlands) and highly contaminated locations. It will likewise build on work such as Englands trees and peat action plans– released previously this year– in order to recognize the land best suited for nature remediation..

The government has actually dedicated to producing a reaction to the technique, consisting of proposals for new legislation, within the next six months..

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” The sort of land that could deliver the greatest environmental advantages is often 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%.”.

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

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

Nature-based solutions, such as peatland restoration and afforestation, are expected to play a significant role in many nations and companies net-zero targets, however a number of these require the repurposing of agricultural land.

Overall carbon costs (kgCO2e) per kilogram of various foodstuff. The teal bars indicate the direct emissions associated with the supply chain of each product, while the yellow bars show the carbon “chance cost”, meaning the quantity of CO2 that might be sequestered in the land used to produce that food. Source: The National Food Strategy, Part II.

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