An environmental not-for-profit organisation has criticised a new ten-point “green industrial revolution” plan unveiled by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (18 November) for not having any provisions for food.
The initiative is geared toward making progress on reaching the UK’s target for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and includes a GBP12bn (US$15.9bn) government investment to “create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK, and spur over three times as much private-sector investment by 2030”.
But food is absent from the objectives revealed today, which are primarily centred around wind farms, housing, electric vehicles, public transport, nature and technology.
Sustain, the London-based agency promoting health and wellness for people and animals, along with environmental issues, headed up its response with the caption, “where is food?”
“We are concerned that the plan completely fails to tackle emissions from the food and farming system, even though food production is the single greatest threat to the health of our planet, and actions to address this bring good jobs and would help make our food system more resilient,” it said in a statement.
Ruth Westcott, a climate change campaign coordinator at Sustain, added: “It is of course very welcome to see action from the Prime Minister on climate change, but astonishing and disappointing that there are no proposals to tackle emissions from food growing, production, manufacturing, and our diets. The evidence is clear, we can’t limit warming to 1.5 degrees or achieve net-zero without addressing food.”
She said the government must do more to promote a healthy diet that is low in meat and dairy but high in fruits and vegetables, and discourage consumption of “ultra-processed food”.
“The government promised in their manifesto to support more top-standard British growers and producers through public food but this is completely missing from today’s proposals,” Westcott said.
Sustain pointed out that food production accounts for 20-30% of global emissions, adding “our diets and farming practices combined are probably the greatest overall threat to the health of our planet”.
Meanwhile, the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), which represents UK manufacturers in those categories, said its members will need “clear direction” on the path forward.
Emma Piercy, the head of climate change and energy policy at the FDF, said: “As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry is absolutely committed to a green recovery post Covid-19 and achieving the government’s net-zero carbon target by 2050.
“We have identified a clear pathway, but the changes required to manufacturing processes and energy supply systems are so significant, businesses will need clear direction and support in partnership with Government and other stakeholders to make that transition.”