Sustain / Climate change and nature

COP 26 and the role of food and farming

Food production is responsible for about a third of Greenhouse Gas emissions globally. The impact of food on emissions, deforestation, water shortages and risk of antibiotic resistance and zoonotic disease is so significant that it is not possible to avoid climate and ecological breakdown without changing the way we farm and eat.

The solutions to a more sustainable food system can help deliver a host of benefits to our mental and physical health, more and better jobs, and opportunities to tackle social injustice.


We are calling for Governments to:

  • Take food and farming seriously during negotiations, on an equal footing with tackling emissions from energy and transport
  • Emissions from food should be included in the UK’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - the plans setting out how each government will cut emissions
  • Agroecology and good animal welfare should be at the heart of new farming policy
  • The food served at the in-person negotiations should showcase the best of British produce and exemplify a climate-friendly dietBriefing: 

Briefing for policymakers: Why sustainable food and farming is key to achieving net zero (July 2021)


Organisations outside Westminster have a role to play in making sure the UK’s climate ambitions are realised, and delivered in a way that improves our health and tackles inequality:

The Glasgow Declaration: Councils, city leaders and national governments - pledge to tackle food-related climate emissions.

Councils have a big role to play through procurement, land use and managing food waste. Food can be a major way for councils to contribute to their net-zero commitments


Climate change and nature: Sustain has taken a keen interest in the rapidly accumulating evidence about the effect of food and farming on climate change and nature, as scientific evidence emerges that our food system is a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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