W hat Copenhagen m eans for us - Food Ethics Council

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W hat Copenhagen m eans for us - Food Ethics Council

In C openhagen th is D ecem ber, 192countries will m eet to broker a globalclim ate change agreem ent beyond 2012.N obody knows what deal will bereached, but agriculture will be on theagenda and the sector’s future dependson the outcom e. W ider m easures, forinstance on deforestation and the C leanD evelopm ent M echanism , m ay also h aveknock-on effects for the food sector. A sgovernm ents, industries and publicinterest groups set out their stalls, whatissues should food businesses consider?T he Septem ber 2009 m eeting of theFood Ethics C ouncil’s (FEC ) B usinessForum discussed such issues. W e arevery grateful to D am ian R yan, SeniorA nalyst at the C lim ate G roup, and T araG arnett, C o-ordinator of th e FoodC lim ate R esearch N etwork, for speakingat the event. T he chair was H elenB rowning O B E, Food and Farm ingD irector of the Soil A ssociation andchair of the FEC .T his report outlines points raised duringth e m eeting. C ontributions are notattributed. T he report was prepared byT om M acM illan based on notes from them eeting and on m aterial kindly providedby both speakers. It does not representth e views of the Food Ethics C ouncil,th e B usiness Forum or their m em bers.! A t the Copenhagen conference, countries willtry to agree targets for reducing greenhousegas em issions after 2012. Scientists suggest that rich countries shouldm ake cuts of 25-40% on 1990 levels by 2020. O ther key issues at Copenhagen willincludehow far poorer countries willlim it growth inem issions, and how m itigation andadaptation should be financed. A deal is m ore likely to be reached durin g2010 than at the conference itself. Agriculture is at the heart of the clim atedebate because it directly accounts for 10-14% of globalem issions, with a further 6-17% arising from land use changes driven byagriculture. In the short term , Copenhagen willhave fewdirect im plications for U K food businessesbut a successful deal for sustainabledevelopm ent is likely to result in higherm edium term regulatory costs and lowerlong term risks to supply. Som e U K food businesses m ay see strategicopportunities in clim ate change, but it isim portant to keep sight of the seriousthreat it poses to the sm allholders and poorurban consum ers who m ake up m ost of theworld’s population. Larger businesses want policy m akers toprovide a predictable regulatoryenvironm ent, while policy m akers look tobusinesses to strengthen their m andate. U nderpinning debates about clim ate policyare deep-rooted questions about how toallocate responsibility for environm entalharm , and how to prevent econom ic grow thfrom outstripping gains in efficiency.© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


" T he C openh agen conference is the nextin a series of clim ate change conferencesth at trace their origins back to the firstworld clim ate conference in 1979 andth e establishm ent of the U N Fram eworkC onvention of C lim ate C hange(U N FC C C ) in 1992 (Figure 1 overleaf).T he m ain aim of the U N FC C C is tostabilise greenhouse gases (G H G s) at alevel that would prevent dangerousm an-m ade clim ate ch ange. That m eansreaching agreem ent between countries.Since 2006, the U N FC C C has beenform ally pursuing a twin track approachto negotiations. O n one side, richcountries (known as A nnex 1 countriesunder the U N FC C C ) have had bindingG H G reduction targets for 2008-2012under the K yoto Protocol, signed in1997 but only ratified in 2005. Thefam ous exception is the U SA , which didnot sign the K yoto Protocol. In the leadup to C openhagen, the K yoto Protocolcountries h ave been trying to agreepost-2012 targets. T he science suggeststh ey need to cut em issions by 25-40%on 1990 levels by 2020. The offers onth e table are generally lower, with theEU at 30% and Japan and A ustraliaoffering 25% with caveats.O n the other side, a working group onLong-term C ooperative A ction (LC A ) hasbeen tasked with reaching a sharedvision for all countries, including thosein A nnex 1, the U SA , and m iddle andlow-incom e countries such as C hina,India, B razil and South A frica. T hey arefocusing on four m ain them es:m itigation, adaptation, financing andtechnology. Both A nnex 1 and non-A nnex 1 countries are supposed to m akecom m itm ents on m itigation, but it isnot clear wh at that will entail for thelatter.K ey issues at C openhagen include: C uts – how m uch will industrialisedcountries reduce their em issions? Lim its – how m uch will m iddle andlow-incom e countries lim it thegrowth of their em issions? Financing – how will richer countrieshelp poorer countries m eet the costsof lim iting em issions and adapting toclim ate change?#$ T he twin tracks should converge atC openhagen. H owever, the prospects ofcountries reaching agreem ent are notprom ising.U nder the rules of both the U N FC C Cand K yoto Protocol, am endm ents toeither treaty would need to be officiallysubm itted six m onths ahead of beingadopted. So, am endm ents to be adoptedat C openhagen in D ecem ber 2009needed to be subm itted by June 2009.W h ile the LC A working group succeededin subm itting a hefty 200 pages of text,the K yoto P rotocol countries wereunable to reach agreem ent.A t th e earliest, then, it seem s that a dealm igh t be reached in the m iddle of 2010,rather than while the negotiators are allin C openhagen. The EU h as proclaim editself ‘leader’ of the negotiations but itcannot broker a deal withoutcollaboration from the U SA and C hina.In practice, m uch hinges on U S dom estic© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


Figure 1: background to Copen hagen.© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


politics. U nless C ongress approves theA m erican C lean Energy and Security A ct,also known after its authors as theW axm an-M arkey bill, the U S negotiatorsat C openhagen will have no m andate toagree G H G targets.Even if a deal is reached at C openhagenor during the subsequent year, itrem ains uncertain whether it will besufficient to m eet the U N FC C C ’s aim tostop dangerous m an-m ade clim atechange. W hether or not newcom m itm ents are agreed, theresponsibility to im plem ent G H Greductions and other m easures will stillrest with national governm ents. W hile sector-specific targets are beingdiscussed under the U N FC C C for som eindustries, such as steel, none are on thecards for food. In practice, theim plications of C openhagen for the foodsector depend on agreem ents th at affectagriculture, com peting land uses, andth e cost and availability of energy.A griculture is at the heart of the debatebecause it is both a m ajor source of G H Gem issions and h ighly vulnerable toclim ate change. Between 10-14% ofglobal em issions are attributed directlyto agriculture, with a furth er 6-17%arising from land use changes driven byagriculture. C lim ate change is expectedto exacerbate water scarcity, which isalready a pressure on production, whilepopulation growth and changes in dietare projected to increase dem and forfood and anim al feed.W h ere will agriculture feature atC openhagen? The K yoto Protocolalready requires A nnex 1 countries toaccount internationally for G H Gem issions from agriculture, includingnot only carbon dioxide but alsom ethane and nitrous oxide. A griculturealso features in the LC A negotiating text72 tim es. 1 In particular, the textrecognises the im portance of foodsecurity and sustainable agriculturewithin a changing clim ate, touches onthe links between agriculture anddeforestation and calls for m ore R & D onagricultural m itigation technologies.% & O rganisations that want agriculture tobe included in a post-2012 globalclim ate deal include m any of the m aininstitutions working internationally toprom ote agricultural sustainabledevelopm ent and food security, such asthe U N Food and A gricultureO rganisation and the International FoodPolicy R esearch Institute.W h ereas m itigation has often been seenas an issue for industrialised countriesand adaptation an issue for low incom ecountries, these organisationsem phasise that com bining adaptationand m itigation should be a globalpriority. A key challenge is to haltdeforestation and land degradation,which are driven in large part byagriculture. It is also crucial, th ey argue,to build carbon stocks, for exam plethrough m inim um till, im proved1Platform Issue Paper N o.5. G lobalD onor Platformfor RuralD evelopm ent, August 2009.© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


pastures and soil conservation, and toreduce nitrous oxide and m eth aneem issions from soils, rice and livestockproduction.M eeting these ch allenges for agriculturewill depend on research into the im pactof clim ate change and m itigationoptions, and on investing in educationand knowledge transfer. M itigation andadaptation efforts in agriculture willonly succeed if finance and incentivesreach the m illions of sm allholders whom ake up the m ajority of land m anagersglobally.Several specific m echanism s on the tableat C openh agen have been suggested asm eans to ach ieve th ese goals. O neproposal is to include agriculturalprojects to sequester G H G s within theC lean D evelopm ent M echanism (C D M ),which allows richer countries to offsetem issions by paying for sequestration inpoorer countries. The rights and wrongsof the C D M are hotly debated alreadyand bringing agriculture into the picturewould pose additional challenges. Inparticular, sm allholders in poorercountries m ay not have the capacity tobenefit from the program m e.A second key m echanism is R E D D +,which adds wider sustainabledevelopm ent objectives to an existinginitiative for R educing D eforestationand D egradation. Concerns over th e useof R ED D + to prom ote clim ate changeadaptation and m itigation in agricultureinclude that it m ay prom ote plantationagriculture at the expense of indigenouspeople’s rights.' W h at will th is m ean for U K foodbusinesses? In th e short term , thenegotiations in C openh agen will havelittle direct effect. The responsibility forim plem enting any deal rests withnational governm ents, and the U K ’sC lim ate C hange A ct is unlikely to changesignificantly as it already includesstricter targets than m ost countriesseem ready to discuss.H owever, over the m edium term , theoutcom e from C openhagen will beim portant. If a deal prom pts the EU toinclude agriculture in the Em issionsT rading Schem e or im pose taxes onagricultural em issions, th at woulddirectly affect production costs.Likewise, policies adopted in countriesthat we trade with could have an effect.Efforts to price agricultural em issions inN ew Z ealand m ay affect the price andavailability of lam b im ports, forexam ple. C onversely, som e countries,such as France, have floated the idea ofintroducing border tax adjustm ents tocom pensate for differences in em beddedcarbon costs.O ver the longer term , whether or notgovernm ents succeed in agreeing toreduce G H G s as far as scientistsconsider is necessary to preventdangerous clim ate change will haveprofound im plications for the foodchain, particularly for sourcing. Som eplaces th at currently grow food forexport to the U K will becom e to dry, wetor hot to supply the products that theydo currently. For exam ple, the quality ofgrapes in A ustralia and C alifornia isexpected to decline below the standards© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


equired for viable wine production.Som e reports suggest such changes arealready happening, with grape and riceproduction taking a big hit in A ustraliain recent years.In m any instances, the availability ofwater will be the m ost im m ediateconstraint on supply. B y 2050, expertsexpect there to be 30% less availablewater for agriculture. If irrigationbecom es untenably expensive, that willaffect food costs and availability.W hether these pressures on supplypresent a m ajor threat to the U K foodsector is open to debate. C lim ate changem ay bring new opportunities and driveinnovation, for exam ple by increasingth e range of fruit and vegetables thatcan be grown profitably in the U K , orgiving the U K a com parative advantagein extensive livestock production.Indeed, even if im port costs increase,th e U K ’s purchasing power m ay besufficient to secure supplies oninternational m arkets. H owever, it isalso plausible that the U K ’s buyingpower will decline and supply willconstrained.Irrespective of th e strategic im plicationsfor U K businesses, clim ate changepressures on food production are badnews for sm allholders and poor urbanconsum ers, who m ake up the m ajority ofth e world’s population and who cannotrely on their buying power to securefood.( U nderlying th e direct effects on th e U Kfood sector of regulatory intervention tom itigate G H G em issions, and of clim atechange itself, are three deep-rootedeth ical challenges.T he first concerns the allocation of G H Gem issions and the responsibility toreduce them . U nder the U N FC C C ,em issions are allocated according towhere they are produced. The U KC lim ate C h ange A ct follows th e sam eapproach. H owever, the U K ’s sustainabledevelopm ent fram ework highlights theneed to reduce our consum ptionfootprint and to avoid ‘offshoring’ theem issions associated with ourconsum ption to other countries. T hesupply-chain approach taken by m anybusinesses, wh ich seeks to reduceem bedded carbon, is in keeping with aconsum ption-based approach toaccounting for em issions.T he allocation of em issions is politicaland ethically fraught. O n the one hand,m ajor exporting countries such as C hinam ay be keen to see im porting countrieswith h igh er per capita incom e shoulderthe cost of reducing the em issionsassociated with high consum ption. O nthe other hand, if U K consum ers sough tto reduce their consum ption footprintby boycotting airfreigh ted produce fromSub-Sharan A frica, they could bedenying a livelihood to people in one ofthe world’s poorest regions.O n top of the question of wh ether weshould allocate internationalresponsibility according to consum ptionor production – a debate about whoshould shoulder the cost – is thepractical m atter of how far consum ersand producers should be expected tochange what they do in order to ach ievereductions in em issions. C an gains in© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


production efficiency achieve thereductions that scientists say arerequired?T he answer depends in part onestim ates of sequestration and technicalabatem ent potential. T heIntergovernm ental P anel on C lim ateC hange (IPC C ) estim ates that m ost oftoday’s agricultural em issions could bereduced through carbon sequestration.H owever, agricultural em issions areexpected to grow and other work for theIPC C also suggests that technicalabatem ent potential, particularly form ethane, m ay be lim ited.Som e com m entators and industryinsiders argue that sufficient reductionsin em issions will be possible withoutm ajor changes in consum ption habits.T hey point to the m ajor differences inproduction-related em issions that liebehind the average figures used inestim ating abatem ent potential. T heyalso argue cost savings will driveefficiency and th at necessity is them other of invention. C onversely, otherspoint to evidence that growth inconsum ption has consistentlyoutstripped gains in resource efficiency,im plying the benefits of technicalabatem ent will be undone unlessprofound ch anges in consum erbehaviour are m ade possible.T he concern that growth will outstripefficiency gains reveals a thirdchallenge, som etim es called the growthdilem m a: prosperity currently dependson econom ic growth, yet we live in afinite environm ent; can prosperity be‘decoupled’ from growth? This dilem m afaces the food industry as m uch as anyother. It also faces us individuals, notonly because we depend on sustainingthe environm ent but also because,through our pensions and em ploym ent,we have a direct stake in econom icgrowth.! W h ile som e businesses are seeking toface up to these deep-rooted dilem m asand trying to prepare for an uncertainfuture, m any are focused only resourceefficiency or paying scant attention toclim ate change.Som e sectors such as livestock, whichare relatively G H G -intensive, areparticularly exposed to regulatoryintervention and to clim ate change.Insiders report th at few producers havelong-term regulatory challenges orclim ate variability on their radar.H owever, industry bodies are beginningto think strategically about clim atechange, for instance by publishingsector roadm aps for G H G reduction.H ow m uch can businesses ach ievecom pared with action by governm ent orconsum ers? Is it in the interests of thefood and farm ing industries to beproactive in lobbying for action onissues that they cannot address in acom petitive m arketplace?O pinions vary on wheth er businesseswill need to lead changes in consum erattitudes and behaviour, or follow them .O n one h and green consum ptionrem ains a strong m arket trend, in spiteof the recession. Som e evidence suggeststhat people are already seeking to eatlower im pact diets. O n th e other,shoppers are overwhelm ed by© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


inform ation and rely on retailers to editth eir choices, and other qualitativeresearch suggests m any consum ers arenot prepared to engage with industryefforts to reduce G H G em issions.Sim ilarly, the relationship betweenbusiness and governm ent is hotlydebated. Som e m itigation m easures,such as raising the price of carbon fromits current $20/tonne to a m ore realistic$220/tonne, can only be achievedth rough policy. Yet governm ent feels itcan only act with a stronger m andatefrom businesses and the public.M eanwhile, governm ent and businessm ay share a concern that if the U Km oves too fast, for exam ple byunilaterally adopting a h igher carbonprice, that it would put the U K in a poorcom petitive position. So, even ifbusinesses m ake public gestures tostrengthen governm ent’s m andate onclim ate change, that m ay not necessarilycount for m uch in practice.O verall, th e key dem and from m ajorbusinesses of governm ent is forpredictability. A gricultural productionand supplies are set to be m ore volatileunder m ost clim ate change scenarios,and large businesses will look togovernm ent to provide stability, ratherthan to exacerbate uncertainty by givingm ixed m essages on policy.Sm aller businesses m ay have a differentinterest. W hereas a relatively stablem arketplace has allowed industry toconsolidate over the past two decades, am ore volatile econom ic and policyenvironm ent m ay reward risk-takingand flexibility. So one consequence forthe food industry of clim ate change, andof efforts to address it, m ay be thatsm aller businesses experience arenaissance.© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


" H elen B row n in g, who was awarded an O BE in 1998 for services toorganic farm ing, runs a 1350 acre organic livestock and arable farm inW iltshire. H elen is the Soil A ssociation’s Food and Farm ing D irector andis chairm an of the England A nim al H ealth and W elfare Im plem entationG roup. She has worked with m any food and farm ing organisations overthe last twenty years, and was a m em ber of the G overnm ent’s PolicyC om m ission on the Future of Farm ing and Food (‘the Curry C om m ission’).H elen is chair of the Food Ethics Council.D am ian R yan is a Senior A nalyst with The Clim ate G roup’s internationalpolicy team based in London. H is current areas of work include:the TonyB lair-led ‘Breaking the Clim ate D eadlock’ project focused on buildingsupport for an am bitious new global clim ate treaty; and the A viationG lobal D eal project, an airline-led initiative for reducing CO 2 em issionsfrom international aviation. Prior to joining The Clim ate G roup, D am ianworked for N ew Z ealand’s M inistry of Foreign A ffairs & Trade for nearlyfour years. D uring this tim e he held positions dealing with internationalclim ate change and W orld Trade O rganisation (W TO ) negotiations.D am ian was a m em ber of the N ew Zealand delegation to various U N FCC Cnegotiation sessions, including both the N airobi and B ali clim ate changeconferences. D am ian holds an H onours degree in agricultural science anda M asters in international relations.T ara G arn ett is a research fellow at the U niversity of Surrey. H er workfocuses on researching the contribution that our food consum ption m akesto U K greenhouse gas em issions and the scope for em issions reduction,looking at the technological options for G H G reductions, at what could beachieved by changes in behaviour and how policies could help prom oteboth these approaches. She is also interested in the relationship betweenem issions reduction objectives and other social and ethical concerns,including hum an health, anim al welfare, and biodiversity. In addition,T ara runs the Food C lim ate R esearch N etwork. T his brings togetheraround a growing num ber of individuals (over 1350 to date) from acrossthe food industry, N G O , G overnm ent and academ ic sectors and from abroad variety of disciplines to share inform ation on issues relating to foodand clim ate change. The FCR N also runs sem inars and its websitewww.fcrn.org.uk is a com prehensive inform ation resource on all thingsfood and clim ate related. The N etwork is funded by the Engineering andPhysical Sciences R esearch C ouncil and D efra and is based at theU niversity of Surrey's Centre for Environm ental Strategy.© Food Ethics Council2008 www.foodethicscouncil.org


Ethical questions around clim ate change, obesity and new technologies are becom ingcore concerns for food businesses. W e have launched the B usiness Forum to help seniorexecutives gain expert insights into the big issues of the day. M em bership is byinvitation only and is strictly lim ited.T he B usiness Forum m eets six tim es a year for in-depth discussion over an early dinnerat a London restaurant. T he forum m em bers shape the m eeting agenda.For furth er inform ation contact:D r T om M acM illanExecutive D irectorFood Eth ics C ouncil39-41 Surrey StreetB righton B N 1 3PBD irect line:+44 1273 766651to m @ food eth icscou n cil.orgw w w .food eth icscoun cil.o rg© Food Ethics Council2009 www.foodethicscouncil.org


Food E th ics C ou n cil39 -4 1 Surrey StreetB righ ton B N 1 3P B+4 4 1273 7 6665 1in fo@ food eth icscou n cil.orgw w w .food eth icscoun cil.o rg

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