Food is not one of the priority themes, but the UK should use its role as COP26 host to show global leadership on the matter, campaigners say.
What we eat, how we farm, and how much food we waste must be addressed, or it will be impossible to tackle climate change, they claim.
Leading more than 30 NGOs, academics, local governments and industry bodies, Nourish Scotland says food systems need to be bumped up the agenda when the UK hosts the global climate summit in Glasgow in November.
Glasgow City Council, Brighton and Hove, Scotland Food and Drink, RSPB, Sustain, the Soil Association, the EAT Foundation, GAIN and the ICLEI global local government network are among the signatories.
Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland, says, “The road from Paris to Glasgow goes through the farm gate. We have to invest in the food and farming transition alongside the clean energy transition – and we have to start now.”
José Graziano da Silva, former Director General of FAO and director of Instituto Fome Zero in Brazil said, “If we want to fight climate change, preserve natural resources, mitigate emissions… we need to integrate the food system with the climate agenda. Ensuring food security involves ensuring a careful and integrated approach.”
“Not enough is being done to reduce the harmful impact of the current system”
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said, “One third of the dangerous greenhouse gases harming the environment come from food, so how we produce food, what we consume, and the level of food waste are central to our drive to be carbon neutral by 2030.
“I implore Alok Sharma, the President of COP26, to use this international platform to let world leaders know that not enough is being done to reduce the incredibly harmful impact of the current system of food production on the climate, and push for real change.”
Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City, which will host COP26, said, “The Glasgow message, as we head towards COP26, is that climate justice and social justice are inseparable. Social justice and social equity must be driven from climate action. And food is an enormous part of that.”
The campaigners point to a recent Chatham House report that shows the global rate of species extinction is higher than the average rate over the past 10 million years, and that the global food system is the primary driver of this trend.
Over the past 50 years, the conversion of natural ecosystems for crop production or pasture has been the principal cause of habitat loss, in turn reducing biodiversity, it says.
It recommends a change in dietary patterns, more land protection, and farming in a more nature-friendly way.
All three should be addressed this year when governments around the world unlock unprecedented levels of investment to support economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, it says.