IPCC’s Message is Clear: We Need to Act Now

One of the most important reports on climate change has been published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their message is clear: to avoid catastrophic consequences of a rising temperature, we must do everything in our power to limit global warming to 1.5oC or below.

The report was loud and clear: the 2oC target of the Paris Agreement is far too high. This means end for business as usual and calls for fundamental changes to our unhealthy and unsustainable food system.

Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC said that “limiting warming to 1.5oC brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,”

He went on to say that, ’the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C – changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.”

A broad systemic societal change must start now, and one of the solutions lies within the food system. An unprecedented convergence zone that offers unlimited potential to reduce carbon emissions, restore and protect wildlife and ecosystems, whilst improving health all over the world.

So why aren’t we doing it? 

Everyone in the kitchen

Habits are hard to change, but we can no longer afford to close our eyes. By acting now, and acting together, we can minimize climate chaos, migration crises, stabilize our future and re-orientate towards a prosperous future for people and planet.

Whilst the transition will be challenging, the report emphasizes the incredible opportunities change will bring.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5oC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

Food for thought

In January 2019, the EAT-Lancet Commission report on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food systems will be released. Conceived  to establish scientific consensus on how it is possible to feed the projected global population of 10 billion a healthy and sustainable diet.

The report will be a game-changer. It will spell out scientific targets for healthy and sustainable diets for all, and guide us on the practices and policies that can help us deliver them.

This Wednesday, the Commissions sister paper – a technical analysis that forms the basis of the EAT-Lancet report – will be published in the scientific journal Nature. It also highlights a selection of ways that food systems can -and must- change.

A little less conversation, a little more action please

Quoted on the BBC today, Dr. Debra Roberts, the IPCC’s other co-chair said ‘’Lifestyle changes can make a big difference. You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.’

In other words: everyone reading this has the power to make an enormous impact. Eat well, eat it all, and eat mostly plants.

Live long and prosper

While the health benefits of plant-based eating are clear, a recent report from the New Climate Economy – an EAT partner on the Food and Land use Coalition –  found that bold climate action can deliver landslides in economic benefits. It can generate $26 trillion whilst creating over 65 million jobs and avoiding more than 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution by 2030.

These incredible prospects are hard to argue with. These discoveries are buoyed by a groundswell of food systems research that are converging around the same topics and the same solutions. That our food has the potential to swerve us away from the perilous edge of climate and health disaster.

Five steps to 1.5 

  1. Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030
  2. Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050
  3. Coal is expected to reduce to close to zero
  4. Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia)
  5. Global net zero emissions by 2050