Our global food system
The food system is a global network requiring a worldwide perspective. GHG emissions associated with overseas production of food and drink imported, sold and consumed in the UK are more than one-third of the UK’s food and drink consumption footprint.
WRAP’s work details this connectivity to imported food and outlines the need for wide-scale action to prevent the positive actions by one nation inadvertently increasing emissions in another.
At a special briefing in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute, WRAP today (06 October) outlined how a net-zero food system can benefit the planet and its inhabitants.
It highlighted the scale of GHG emissions reductions that could come from different types of interventions across the food system, such as zero deforestation, decarbonising energy, decarbonising transport and preventing food waste.
It proposed five key actions for UK industry, which will help meet environmental goals such as the UK’s Courtauld Commitment 2030 GHG target (50% absolute reduction in emissions associated with food and drink consumed by 2030 from 2015).
The Courtauld 2030 target is aligned to a 1.5ºC pathway and is a milestone to meeting wider food sector targets for net zero by 2040, including those managed by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Food & Drink Federation (FDF).
A food model for other countries
WRAP’s work allows for a full investigation of the implications of actions across the whole food system, to aid policy decisions and focus action by businesses.
The Food System GHG model has been designed to help quantify the scale of potential emissions reduction that could be achieved through a range of actions aligned to existing commitments, such as renewable energy targets, zero deforestation commitments and targets to halve food waste.
The model provides a robust means of monitoring the UK’s total food system emissions (including both domestic production and imports), which is an important metric highlighted in the National Food Strategy. Monitoring progress over time will ensure actions taken are having the right effect.
WRAP believes the model could be replicated in other countries.
As well as the most comprehensive mapping of GHG food emissions to date, WRAP’s report also highlights where food system emissions originated and details the changes between 2015 and 2019, during which time an 8% reduction was achieved by the UK.
It builds on the National Food Strategy and recent Courtauld 2030 progress report, both of which highlighted the significance of the food system for both territorial emissions and our wider global footprint.
Crucially, the report highlights a pathway to achieving a 50% reduction in the GHG emissions linked to production and consumption of food and drink in the UK. This can be achieved mainly by ensuring that existing policy, business and sector-level commitments and targets are delivered.
But warns WRAP, they must be delivered at pace.