Foodservice Footprint COP2 The Friday Digest: Good COP or bad COP for food? Out of Home News Analysis  news-email-top

The Friday Digest: Good COP or bad COP for food?

Ahead of the COP28 climate summit in the UAE there was genuine excitement that, for the first time ever, food had a clearly defined role on the conference agenda. A week into the event and much of that excitement has dissipated as food issues are once again at risk of being sidelined.

On Wednesday, WWF released a statement warning that negotiations on food systems transformation – through the implementation of commitments to climate action on agriculture and food security made at COP27 – have stalled, threatening collective ability to meet climate, nature and development goals.

Food systems transformation was also absent from a new draft of the ‘global stocktake’, an assessment of progress made toward mitigating climate change since the Paris Agreement in 2015 including measures to bridge the gaps in progress. This is despite food featuring in both the mitigation and adaptation sections of earlier drafts.

“The science is clear that we will not achieve any of the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement without more ambitious, comprehensive, and equitable climate action on food,” said Joao Campari, global food practice leader for WWF. “The fact negotiations on the joint work on agriculture and food security have failed to deliver any agreement, and food systems are currently being sidelined from the global stocktake is deeply disappointing. Those in negotiation rooms cannot be tone deaf to science and urgency.”

It had all started so positively when 134 heads of state, including some of the world’s largest food producers, signed the ‘Emirates declaration on sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems and climate action’ through which they pledged to accelerate action on transforming agriculture and food systems.

Since then there has been a steady stream of food-focused commitments unveiled. A new roadmap for action on food waste aims to unlock $300m (£240m) in targeted philanthropic investment to catalyse global action on food waste. ReFED and WWF have also announced the formation of the ‘US food waste pact’ – a national voluntary agreement enabling pre-competitive collaboration and data-driven action to reach national and international food waste reduction targets.

Methane – a key source of livestock emissions – is also under the spotlight in Dubai. Six of the world’s largest dairy companies will soon begin disclosing their annual methane emissions as part of a ‘Dairy methane action alliance’. Danone, Bel Group, General Mills, Lactalis USA, Kraft Heinz and Nestlé have committed to publicly disclose their methane emissions within their dairy supply chains and write methane action plans by the end of 2024.

Elsewhere, a new ‘Taskforce on net-zero policy’ has been established to ensure that credible net-zero commitments by businesses and other non-state actors are underpinned with coherent policies and regulatory certainty. The aim is to build on the work of the United Nations secretary-general’s ‘High level expert group’ on net-zero emissions commitments of non-state entities, which was launched at COP27 and called for non-state actors to take clear and ambitious action to align their net-zero pledges and accompanying transition plans with the latest science.

There have been moves as well to unify standards around carbon offsets. The Science Based Targets initiative, GHG Protocol and the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) announced their intention to create an end-to-end integrity framework with the aim of establishing a unified, clear standard for those involved in the sale and purchase of carbon credits. Meanwhile some of the leading issuers of carbon credits including Verra and Gold Standard have formed a coalition aimed at harmonising criteria for the measurement and recording of carbon removals and reductions, with a focus on issues such as permanence.

With a dedicated food and agriculture day (December 10th) still to come before COP28 closes on December 12th there remains hope that food will finally receive the attention many experts believe it deserves.

Also covered in this week’s Footprint news is IGD’s recommendation for a harmonised UK eco-labelling scheme; data showing vegetable consumption is in decline; and a survey showing young people want action on healthy food.