Campaigners call for food to be on the menu at COP26

Alexandra Rose Charity has joined more than 30 health, environment and farming organisations in writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call for action to reduce the climate and nature impact of farming and our diets.  

The letter urges Mr Johnson to acknowledge the critical role of land use and agriculture in the climate crisis and recognise that more sustainable farming practices can produce good food while tackling climate change and improving nature. 

The signatories are calling for the government to reward farmers for transitioning to agroecology, uphold high standards when signing new trade deals, and advocate for better food and farming policies globally. They also call for public sector food to reflect a healthy and sustainable diet and buy from more sustainable British farmers. 

“At Alexandra Rose Charity COP26 is an important moment in time when the world can make bold commitments to address the causes of climate change. Food production and consumption are big net contributors to emissions. We need a concerted effort by world leaders to promote a food system that improves access to healthy food for all while reducing GHG emissions and protecting biodiversity.

Jonathan Pauling

Chief Executive, Alexandra Rose Charity

Food and drink accounts for a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions when the impact of imported food is included. Emissions from the global food sector alone would put the Paris agreement out of reach even all other sources of emissions were to be halted. 

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released in August, was the panel’s starkest climate warning yet and reported that methane, ammonia and nitrous oxide are having an ever-greater role in global heating. Intensive industrialised farming is the main source of these emissions. The National Food Strategy, commissioned by the UK Government and released earlier this year, recommended that UK diets shift to include 30% more fruit and vegetables and 30% less meat. Public sector meals, including schools and hospitals, should reflect a healthy and sustainable lifestyle diet. 

There is growing public support for more action on food and climate change. In September, a nationwide poll of nearly 22,000 people found that 93% of people favoured reducing meat and dairy as part of a policy mix to tackle climate change. 79% favoured supporting less intensive and nature-friendly farming. Prince Charles criticised ‘crazy’ industrialised farming subsidies earlier this month and revealed he eats meat in moderation to reduce his environmental impact. 

More information can be found on Sustain’s website.