The intimate relationship between our food and our climate

‘The Glasgow Declaration pledges to accelerate the development of integrated food policies as a key tool in the fight against climate change, commits local authorities to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from urban and regional food systems in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and calls on national governments and international institutions to act.’ (From the Accompanying Document to the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration).

UAC has just become a proud supporter of The Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration which has managed to bring together many years of work across the globe, often off the radar and at the margins, into the spotlight. It is a document for sub-national government bodies to sign and to act on.

If you haven’t perused the website yet and read the declaration please do. It’s well worth it for anyone who is trying to weave together and articulate the threads of narrative around food and climate which, for many, are still separate departments, conversations and concerns.

Sustain’s recent research into the presence of Food in local authorities’ Climate Action Plans found that of 92 councils surveyed only 13

have released climate action plans with an extensive consideration of a number of food issues –
commensurate with the kind of action needed to tackle the climate and nature emergency

People are slowly becoming familiar with the fact that the UK food system is responsible for about 1/3 of our carbon emissions, that’s an easy one to remember so you can hold on to it (remembering that there’s a huge amount of complex research, metrics and measurements behind this). This figure also shows us plain as day that transitioning from an industrial global to a regenerative national food system is going to be one of the most doable, and powerfully effective ways of (a) reducing our emissions going forward (b) sequestering the existing ‘legacy load’ of CO2 from the atmosphere (see video below) and (c) providing good nutrition to all citizens equitably into the bargain (thereby tackling the mental and physical health emergencies). Regenerative food systems are win, win, win, win, win!

It is this legacy load of CO2 (quite aside from what we’re adding to it on a daily basis) that is already making the ice caps melt and sea levels rise, causing species die out, mass human migration and starvation, political unrest, and causing the proliferation of catastrophic extreme weather events (and associated health and social problems) that we’re woefully unprepared for.

The holocene – that period of climatic stability which has enabled humans to exist, survive and thrive is coming to an end through our own making, through systems that have been designed by humans. Plants absorbing CO2 created the holocene and are perfectly designed to draw CO2 from the atmosphere more powerfully than anything else we know. Fertile soils, full of biodiverse plant life absorb vast quantities of CO2 (and require animal biodiversity to proliferate).

So, the faster we can transition globally to localised food systems which (a) can feed everyone with nutrient dense food (b) sequester carbon (c) regenerate native biodiversity and (d) provide purposeful livelihoods then our species has a just, tangible and rewarding foundation on which to build solidarity, nourish our families, contribute to the common good, and thereby manage the turbulence to come.

So. Step one. Get a local, organic veg box. Find one here Farms to Feed Us or here Open Food Network or here Community Supported Agriculture Network.

This is a brilliant, clear, graphic explanation of the role of plants’ photosynthesis in the balance of the planets climate (3 mins long). Food forests, bio-intensive horticulture, fertile soils, nutrient dense plants, bioregional ecosystems, localised supply, native and heritage biodiversity, local economic autonomies = healthy humans learning to live in balance with our home planet.