Published: 18 May 2021 at 16:05
ARU expert co-authors new study for the Global Food Security programme
A new report co-authored by Professor Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) points to a future of dietary changes, higher food prices, and less food waste.
The UN’s Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require significant changes to the type of food that will produced and consumed in the UK.
Published by the UKRI’s Global Food Security programme, the report examines four potential scenarios of what our food system might look like in 2050, as the UK adapts to meet its climate change commitments while also experiencing milder, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers.
Professor Jones, Director of ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute, authored the “collaborative food system” scenario, where global governance and trade arrangements determine which foods are grown in which parts of the world to maximise yields and improve sustainability.
In this scenario, the UK’s primary export is red meat, with a world-class livestock system that emits minimal greenhouse gases while supporting biodiversity and reforestation. However, by 2050 red meat is a luxury product, so the UK population eats mostly plant-based protein with some white meat. This shift has helped reduce diet-related diseases and creates space for wildlife to thrive.
Although these individual scenarios aren’t predictions of what will happen by 2050, taken together the four different scenarios reveal several common outcomes, such as an inevitable rise of food prices, driven partly by climate change, a shift towards less land-intensive, meat-based diets, and a reduction in food waste, which has a number of associated benefits.
The UK currently wastes 10.2 million tonnes of food every year, producing more than 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste would not only reduce these emissions, but also reduce the amount of land required to feed the population.
This could allow agricultural land to be released for alternative uses such as reforestation, biodiversity, and renewable energy production, bringing the UK closer to its climate-mitigation targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Professor Jones said:
The scenario analysis produced the following key messages:
To read the full report, visit the Global Food Security website: https://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/activity/new-report-the-role-of-the-uk-food-system-in-meeting-global-agreements-potential-scenarios/.
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