CO2 and food: why we need to discuss them (COP26)

40 anni di ritardo contro i cambiamenti climatici

Environment and climate change are now terms that we hear about on a daily basis. Television, conferences, advertising, every day remind us how serious these problems are. And how alarming the consequences would be if we did not act in a “sustainable” way. If we take a step back in history we will realize that these issues have been talked about for decades.

But despite the warning of science on the urgency of acting for the good of our planet, we preferred to pretend nothing. We are in fact 40 years behind against climate change.

The term “sustainability”

The term “sustainability” was coined in 1987 starting from the wave of progressive awareness of environmental issues and the future of the planet born in the 70s. In 1972, the UN conference in Stockholm is in fact the date of the first “stage” of sustainable development that has led us to date, to the Confederation of the Parties 2021 in Glasgow.

In between there were many other opportunities for debate on the environmental issue, among the most important we cannot fail to mention the COP 3 of the famous Kyoto Protocol (1997), the Rio Conference (2012) and the Summit for the 2030 Agenda in 2015, to give some examples.

But on how many of these occasions has there been an in-depth discussion of how crucial food is for the fight against climate change? None, unfortunately.

The importance of food sector

For years Associazione PIÙINFORMA has been supporting the importance of informing people and putting pressure on institutions, regarding the importance of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 by acting on one of the most important sectors to consider to combat climate change: the food sector. In support of this, the data are clear: the production and distribution of food in the world is responsible for 26% of CO2eq emissions, an amount equal to about 13 billion tons per year. It is the second most polluting sector in the world, surpassed only by the energy sector!

Despite the high importance and pressure of more than 100 NGOs during the recent COP 26, once again the food sector is not the subject of debate on the working table of the most important climate meetings.

Acting on the food sector is the opportunity, which has now become a necessity, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Changing the food production system would in fact be able to reduce an important amount of CO2eq emissions, with a multiple value that is not limited only to reducing air pollution but also to saving essential resources such as soil and water. It is therefore not a question of simple change, but of real evolution!

Formation and information

Today the promoters of this evolution can be us consumers, armed with two essential tools: information and the ability to choose. Being informed is the prerequisite for making conscious and responsible consumption choices. This can enhance and encourage the production and consumption of products with a reduced environmental footprint.

However, this choice also requires sacrifices, that is, giving up the comfort to leave room for quality. A sacrifice, however, only apparent because the benefits that would derive from it would be far greater than the disadvantages.

Preferring local foods to those sold in supermarkets, reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products, choosing certified products as having little impact on the environment are just some of the examples of gestures with which we consumers can act in a concrete way for the environment. Without waiting for the institutions to work.

The role of the institutions

Next step: involve the institutions. The realization of the Minimum Environmental Criteria is certainly an important step for the “sustainability” of our country. Our Association is also collaborating, as well as the proposal shared by the Prime Minister Mario Draghi regarding the carbon tax.

But all this is not enough, it is necessary to discuss CO2 and the role of nutrition:  we must act to transform the food supply chain system, encourage sustainable transport and packaging, support information and training campaigns on food, and much more. We have waited too long, we are 40 years behind in the race against climate change.

Forty years of deep sleep on the part of the institutions that have preferred to sleep on our future. Condemning the generations of today and tomorrow to face a problem of global scope.

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