In this episode we’re asking – what’s holding the UK food system back from making the scale of change needed to tackle the climate crisis, and where should we focus research to help unlock it? We’re at the AFN Network+ Big Tent conference in Leeds, delving into some possible future scenarios and what a net zero agrifood system would look like under each. We talk to Daniel Zeichner, Labour’s shadow Defra minister, Tim Benton, our co-lead and a professor of population ecology and sustainable food systems at Leeds University and former UK Champion for Global Food Security, plus farmers, chefs, researchers, and ecologists. Asking the questions is Jez Fredenburgh, knowledge exchange fellow at AFN Network+, based at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, and an agri-food journalist.
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We need to eat differently – for the planet and our own health too. This much is becoming increasingly clear as report after report shows that cutting emissions from the agri-food system hinges on dietary change. But what determines our food choices, and what are the lessons for policy makers, health, education, food companies, retail, and the wider food system? Prof Charlotte Hardman, Psychology of Eating Behaviour in the Department of Psychology, Institute of Population Health, at the University of Liverpool, sheds some light on this important topic.
Prof Hardman covers;
- Setting the scene – mapping UK dietary inequalities, health and food insecurity
- The psychology determinants of healthy and sustainable food choices
- The role of poverty, inequality and the cost-of-living in our food choices
- Why UK poverty and high living costs are barriers to achieving net zero in agri-food
- Learnings from schools, food banks and other lived experiences
- Lessons for policy makers, retail, food brands, health and education professionals
How do we save the planet and our health through food? Henry Dimbleby has many ideas and is on a mission to spread the word. Author of the government-commissioned National Food Strategy, and new book 'Ravenous', Henry recently answered our questions in a webinar. In this short podcast episode, we speed over the main messages and highlights from the event, and dig deeper into what Henry said.
Giving the analysis are Angelina Sanderson Bellamy, an associate professor in Food Systems, at the University of the West of England, and Neil Ward, a professor of Rural & Regional Development, at the University of East Anglia. Asking the questions is Jez Fredenburgh, knowledge exchange fellow at AFN Network+, based at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, and an agrifood journalist. *Andy Haldane is referred to as the governor of the Bank of England, but he was in fact the chief economist at the bank until 2021.
Henry Dimbleby, author of the UK government's National Food Strategy has written a book – 'Ravenous - how to get ourselves and our planet into shape'. This is Henry's no-holds-barred take on what we need to do to save the planet and our health through food. Henry will be diving into this with Prof Neil Ward, co-lead of the AFN Network+ and professor at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change at UEA.
- The politics and sensitivities of 'nanny state' intervention
- What he's learnt from citizen assemblies, on how people feel about government intervention in what they eat
- Dietary change - policy levers and the need for systemic change
- Agricultural policy - how farmers need to be asked to do more, but supported more too
WEBINAR: Retailer supply chains & the barriers & opportunities to cutting emissions – with Dr Stephen Mackenzie
The UK has one of the most concentrated groceries retail sectors in the world, with just five supermarkets controlling around 80% of the market. Tackling GHG emissions in these supply chains can therefore have a huge impact. But with thousands of suppliers, fierce competition between retailers, and less-than-perfect measurement tools, how can this actually be achieved? Dr Stephen Mackenzie, a Senior Specialist on the issue of GHGs in food systems at WRAP, digs into this for us.
Dr Mackenzie covers:
- A top-down view on key sources of GHG emissions in UK food systems and trends in recent years
- An overview of membership and principles of the GHG working group under the Courtauld Commitment 2030
- Current barriers to measuring GHGs across supply chains, including on-farm carbon calculation tools, reporting standards, and decision making.
- The Retailer Net Zero CAP – opportunities and challenges of forming such collaborations
- Research gaps to measuring / reducing GHG in supply chains and where our working group members say they need help
The UK government has committed to delivering net zero by 2050 – but how on track are we and what needs to change in UK food and farming? Dustin Benton, policy director at Green Alliance, talks us through Chris Skidmore’s independent review of government net zero plans, and puts forward his own solutions from the Alliance’s latest report 'Shaping UK land use: priorities for food, nature and climate'.
Dustin answers these key questions:
- What did the Skidmore review say, and where might government policy go from here?
- The big picture - is the UK living up to its carbon budget?
- Where do our food and farming emissions need to be to achieve net zero by 2050?
- Under what scenarios could we achieve this?
- What are the difficulties and trade-offs of these scenarios?
- Key sticking points going forwards – what needs to happen now?
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UK Research has funded this Network+ with the support of these 4 councils:
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)