After publishing reports on both the causes and effects of climate change as part of their 6th assessment report, the latest Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report provides an updated global assessment of climate change mitigations.
In short, the single strongest point this report makes is: We need to reduce GHG emissions by 43% by 2030 to avoid a global climate disaster. The good news is, there are options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030.
What needs to be done?
Well… that’s the billion dollar question.
First, there is no avoiding the obvious. We need to shift away from fossil fuels now.
Second, it is crucial to encourage shifts in lifestyles, such as eating and wasting less, to reduce the demand for oil, gas and coal. Not only will this benefit the planet, these lifestyle changes can also improve our health and wellbeing.
“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential.”
- IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla.
Third, challenges can hide opportunities. Land use change for agriculture, forestry, and other land use have caused great amounts of emissions and loss of resilience in the past but when managed right, nature does bounce back. Regenerative land use can provide large-scale emissions reductions and also remove and store carbon dioxide at scale. Not as a means to compensate or offset emissions in other sectors, but to coincide with other GHGs emissions reductions.
What does this mean for the foodservice sector?
Always include diverse plant-based and vegetarian options on your menus
You can alter the number, placing, and prevalence of vegetarian options on a menu. Doing this can increase consumption of plant-based foods, and decrease meat consumption and its related GHGs emissions. Indeed, studies show that vegetarian meal sales increase when more vegetarian options are offered.
“Changes in the composition of goods consumed, such as, shifting diets toward a more vegetarian balance, can reduce land-use emissions without compromising the quality of life”
- The IPCC Working Group III
Know your emissions, be transparent and communicate
You can improve education and awareness through eco-labelling, namely by implementing LCA based carbon or food waste labelling. The IPCC report firmly points out that harmonising communication and eliminating ambiguous food labelling with well-defined and clear labelling systems for food helps guide consumers’ voluntary choices.
“Examples of green nudging include making the sustainable option the default option, enhancing visibility, accessibility of, or exposure to, sustainable products and reducing visibility and accessibility of unsustainable products, or increasing the salience of healthy sustainable choices through social norms or food labels”
- The IPCC Working Group III
The next few years will be critical. But, adaptation, innovation, resilience and determination to make the necessary decisions and changes are human qualities shared all around the globe. Action is within our reach and we all have a role to play and a responsibility to adapt.
Every second counts, every voice has an impact, and every meal matters.