The Food and Climate Crises Must Be Confronted Together

Past U.N. climate summits neglected food. That needs to change at COP27.

By Kabir Agarwal, an independent journalist who writes about food systems, climate change, and political economy.

November 9, 2022, 4:34 PM

The world’s food systems are among the biggest contributors to climate change—and one of its biggest casualties. Yet at past United Nations climate summits, negotiations have largely overlooked food. That needs to change at this year’s conference, known as COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Simply put, there is no way of tackling the climate crisis without fundamentally overhauling the world’s food systems. A 2021 analysis by Our World in Data showed that even if fossil fuel emissions magically disappeared, emissions from just the food sector would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the aspirational target set in the 2015 Paris agreement.

That alone should be enough to spur action at COP27. But rising food insecurity has made the problem impossible to ignore. Egypt, which holds the COP27 presidency, is among the countries suffering the worst consequences of the global food crisis. Egypt has said its representatives will bring food systems into sharper focus at this summit. NGOs and other institutions have also been more active in raising awareness around the issue. Already, on the summit’s second day, 14 of the world’s largest food firms launched a plan to end deforestation in some of their major supply chains by 2025.

Given this push, food systems will feature more prominently in Sharm el-Sheikh than they have at any other U.N. climate summit. But in order to translate awareness around food systems into tangible action down the line, ministers, negotiators, and pressure groups must build off of this momentum and use all the tools they have at COP27 to push for food system transformation.

…(read more).

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