As the anticipation and excitement builds in the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow this November, we all know this is our best chance to get the world on track to tackle climate change. During these last few weeks, it has felt like the full fury of the climate crisis has appeared almost everywhere at once. From the deadly heatwaves in Canada to devastating deluges hitting northern Europe, from raging forest fires in Siberia to record-breaking rainfall in China. It has been plain to see that nobody and nowhere is immune to the changing climate.
2021 is a historically significant year with our world leaders being faced with the monumental task of bridging the gap between countries’ current climate commitments and the significant transformation needed to tackle the climate and nature emergencies. With citizens from around the world having high expectations for COP26, the big question is, can we as a global community take the action needed to achieve net zero and be climate prepared before it is too late? Our future is dependent on us getting this right and matching our action with the reality we face. We must all play our part in this massive call to action.
Food and farming account for almost a third of greenhouse gas emissions and there’s no way to meet the Paris targets without changing the food system. The road from Paris to Glasgow goes through the farm gate. Furthermore, the changing climate is threatening global food security.
Observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some events.
IPCC Special Report – Climate change and Land
The Farming for 1.5C inquiry published their final report last week and encouragingly the main message is; it is possible to reduce emissions, increase biodiversity and maintain production. Change is inevitable, the nature of the climate and environment emergencies requires us to redefine the role of farmers. No longer are we just asking farmers to produce food, we are asking them to deliver for nature and the climate too. This inquiry has brought all key players together and collectively they have agreed that agriculture must become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
So, we are agreed, we must change how we farm, what we eat and how much we waste – and at the same time provide good food for everyone and good jobs in food. That’s why we need joined-up action on food at every level, from local to global.
The Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration aims to bring the commitment of food systems transformation to COP26 as an integrated solution to the climate emergency, with co-benefits for biodiversity, ecosystem regeneration, circularity, access to sustainable and healthy diets for all, and the creation of resilient livelihoods for farm and food workers.
The Declaration is a commitment by local governments around the world to take joined-up action on food to tackle climate change, and a call on national governments to do the same. It is vital to have local and national governments working together on this – national governments must set the direction, whereas local governments are in touch with their citizens every day and can make a real difference to what happens on the ground. For example – working with local farmers and growers to supply the food for schools and care services, providing land for market gardens in and around towns, connecting local food producers with shops and cafes, running local projects to reduce food waste, making veg and fruit more accessible and making our weekly shop more sustainable.
Only a food systems approach can identify effective interventions to accelerate climate action while delivering many co-benefits.
Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration
The Highland Council recently signed the Declaration, making it one of the first Local Authorities in Scotland to join this global movement and commit to supporting and enabling food systems change. The Highland Good Food Partnership is delighted with this progress and plans to work closely with the Highland Council, communities, farmers, crofters and food businesses along with other public bodies to do food better. We can do this – together!