There was much anticipation and high expections for the United Nation’s (UN) 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November. For many, this was seen as the last chance for global governments to agree on aggressive and impactful actions to reverse the current climate crisis and consequent irreversible damage to human and planetary health. With food systems identified as key contributors to climate change, it is fair to say that many were disappointed that this topic failed to take centre stage. However, three of the key pledges signed by some – unfortunately not all - of the 195 member states, will have to involve changes to our food system if the targets set are to be met.
1. Climate Neutral Now pledge
UK food and drink consumption (including those imported) currently represents a sizeable chunk at 35% of our total carbon footprint. Therefore, if we are to meet our target of net zero by 2050, policies for dietary change are inevitable.
2. Deforestation pledge
The pledge to not only eliminate but reverse deforestation by 2030 will have one of the biggest impacts on reducing GHG emissions, reinstating a natural carbon sink and preserving biodiversity. As agriculture is the single biggest driver of deforestation and arable land use, how we produce foods and therefore which foods are made available to consumers will have to change.
3. Global Methane pledge
108/197 nations have signed up. The aim is to reduce human-related methane emissions by 30% by 2030. In Europe, 53% of methane emissions come from agriculture, primarily livestock farming and food waste, therefore reducing emissions from this industry will play a key role in reaching this target.