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Home » Climate Action » Bursting the industrial food model bubble – it’s not too late to change

Christophe Barnouin

CEO, Ecotone, brand owner of Clipper Teas, Whole Earth and Kallo

The Earth’s bountiful and beguiling biodiversity is in startling decline as a direct result of the food humanity needs and the choices we are making as consumers.

With 7.7 billion people globally, and an ever-growing population to feed, the current industrial food model is largely to blame. This is not widely understood. Recent UK consumer research found that just 5% of people say food production or intensive farming gives them most cause for environmental concern.

The manner in which we, as humans, source our food needs fixing. We must put biodiversity on the menu and do what is right for our planet’s future. Food production is responsible for one third of all global greenhouse emissions, and meat and dairy farming accounts for 75% of this. We cannot ignore the impact our food consumption has on the natural world.

Time to act

We are fast approaching a tipping point, beyond which there will be no turning back, 80% of the insects in our fields have disappeared in less than 30 years. Three quarters of fruit and vegetable varieties worldwide are gone. Intensive livestock farming is responsible for 80% of Amazon deforestation. What more do we need to know to act?

The moment has come for us all to take personal responsibility for our choices: to make positive changes that will protect and enhance biodiversity and begin to rebuild our broken world.

Eat less meat and embrace organic

The decisions shoppers make in the supermarket is one way to make a difference. Wider diversity in our diets and opting for vegetarian, plant-based and organic alternatives is a starting point to safeguarding our world’s future. Put simply, the more vegetables and less meat in our diets, the better. Animal farming is a major contributor to the climate crisis and has a direct effect on biodiversity. Soya animal feed is imported from parts of the world where tropical deforestation is taking place at an alarming level.

We must put biodiversity on the menu and do what is right for our planet’s future.

More measurement and transparency

For the food industry, the challenge is sizeable. It is about more than empty promises such as achieving ‘carbon neutrality’. This popular metric amongst many large UK corporations is little more than a cleverly disguised form of greenwashing. Unless businesses are acting to reduce their carbon outputs, they are not truly helping. Offsetting emissions is applying a plaster to a gaping wound; it does not address the root cause.

Targets and action

At Ecotone, we have committed to using science-based targets to measure and reduce both our direct and indirect emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Guided by our mission ‘Food for Biodiversity’, reducing climate emissions is integral to our belief that the climate crisis is intrinsically linked to biodiversity erosion.

Generally, we produce less emissions by having a predominantly plant-based product portfolio. We are taking further action by moving to fully recyclable packaging, reducing the weight of our products and using renewable production materials.

We will soon reach 100% renewable energy in our offices and factories and are progressively replacing our production sites with green biogas. We also work closely with our stakeholders on agricultural practices in our supply chain. Our priority is developing better agroecological practices that help to protect and grow biodiversity.

Tackling the biodiversity crisis

There are many mountains to climb to combat the biodiversity crisis, including banning all life-destroying chemical substances, fighting against food standardisation and revitalising our hurt ecosystems. While biodiversity loss is less understood compared to the climate crisis, make no mistake: it’s the single biggest environmental crisis of our time. As COP26 made clear about climate – and NGOs and civil society have before – we all need to come together to drive positive change and protect what matters most. While biodiversity loss is less understood compared to the climate crisis, make no mistake: it’s one of the biggest environmental crisis of our time. Let’s take action now!

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