Eco-labels ‘unlikely to have a meaningful impact on emissions’, UK's Climate Change Committee reveals

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Getty/Tom Werner
Image: Getty/Tom Werner

Related tags Eco labels

The UK government’s emission reduction strategy is overlooking demand-side measures such as encouraging healthier, more sustainable diets, according to the UK's Climate Change Committee.

Eco-labels are ‘unlikely to have a meaningful impact on emissions’, according to the UK's Climate Change Committee, which has published its annual report on progress in reducing UK greenhouse gas emissions.

The report criticised the government for “worryingly slow”​ climate progress and said the UK has lost its global net zero leadership position.

Recommendations put forward by the CCC include more renewable energy; more heat pumps and insulation; more sales of electric vans; and no airport expansion. Tree planting needs to rapidly increase, it added, and called on more moves to electrify industry.

In terms of food and diet, the CCC noted the only diet policy proposed by the government is introducing voluntary eco-labelling on foods, which is “unlikely to have a meaningful impact on emissions”,​ it said. The committee instead wants to see a focus on demand-side measures to facilitate low carbon diets and lower meat diets.

“Failing to address demand-side measures properly raises risks that emissions reductions will be insufficient, and that land is not released for sequestration,”​ the report said. “This will result in a missed opportunity for climate policy across the agriculture and land-use sectors, with benefits for human health.”

Government policy is also still needed on reducing food waste across the entire food system, from farm to fork, the CCC added.

The Good Food Institute Europe, an international non-profit working to advance sustainable proteins, highlighted that the CCC report authors suggest a transition to sustainable proteins could help the UK achieve its climate objectives.

It claims these foods, including plant-based and cultivated meat, are able to slash the climate impact of meat by up to 92% while freeing up space for nature-friendly farming and reducing the UK’s reliance on imported animal foods. According to the CC report, the government is “off track” in boosting innovations such as cultivated meat that could help achieve this,

Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “Today’s report makes clear that British people want to cut down on meat – and sustainable proteins offer them a way of doing this without compromising on taste.”

However, developing a market for these foods, according to the CCC “requires addressing a range of barriers”​ the UK government is yet to address, including investment, technology readiness, safety and regulation. 

Consumer acceptance is a challenge too, highlighted by the casualties of the plant-based meat sector of late​.

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