The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly known as COP26, kicked off last Sunday 31st October in Glasgow and runs until 12th November.

It’s a follow up event to the 2015 conference held in Paris, where member states of the UN agreed an international framework to tackle climate change. One part of the 2015 conference was a ‘ratchet mechanism’, where states have to meet every 5 years (COP26 was due to happen last year but was postponed due to the COVID pandemic), to agree to enhance their commitments to combat climate change. This means we should see further commitments made by countries to tackle climate change in the present and decades to come.

COP26 will focus on a variety of aspects that make up climate change, but food and agricultural production will make up a large part of discussion and future commitments going forward. Whilst the UK has done very well to reduce carbon emissions and was the first developed country to enshrine net-zero carbon commitment into law, climate change is a global problem that requires action from all countries and people. In this blog, we will look at what will be discussed and decided at COP26 in relation to food and its effect on the climate.

Nature – Protecting and restoring for the benefit of people and the climate

The world is facing the twin threats of climate change and biodiversity loss. One cannot be solved without addressing the other. Agriculture, forestry and other land use account for nearly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. They also support global food security, and millions of jobs. 

At the same time, ecosystems protect us: healthy forests clean the air, and mangroves can defend our coastlines against storm surges.

COP26 is mainly focusing on accelerating action on protecting and restoring forests and other critical ecosystems, and helping the world move towards sustainable agriculture and land use. An example of this in action could be an agreement from Brazil on reducing or stopping the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in order to grow food for cattle around the world.

Indeed, there has already been some progress made on this issue. The major producer and consumer countries of agricultural commodities like cocoa and soy are coming together to take action to protect forests, whilst promoting sustainable global trade and development.

What it means for us

So overall, the main focus of COP26 on food will be to avoid worsening the destruction of nature and attempts to reverse the effects of the most egregious methods of food production. The UK food industry has the power and potential to be a significant thought leader in this endeavour, as comparative to other countries’ food systems, the UK is generally pretty good at meeting climate change targets and low emitters of greenhouse gasses.

However, we understand that for those who are invested in The Consumer Brand or who care greatly about wildlife, nature, and biodiversity, or even progressive farmers – things are not moving fast enough. The focus of COP26 will largely fall on producers rather than consumers, failing to realise the growing movement of people who want to take action into their own hands. That is why here at The Consumer Brand we believe in the power of the consumer to make progressive and powerful changes. We have developed a model where you can decide and actualise what is important to you when it comes to the food you eat.

COP26 and the decisions that come out of the conference may seem like something you have no power or say over, yet more avenues are opening up for you to make direct changes in your everyday life. If you want food and farming to be part of the positive change in the fight against climate change, you have the power to vote for it through The Consumer Brand.