With climate change a much-discussed topic, and rightfully so, its effects on the UK in regards to food supplies is now being looked into by a group of MPs. They have found that one fifth of the UK's fresh food comes from countries affected by climate change. And now they want to know what that means for people in UK and how this could affect diets and health.
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) of MPs, found that almost 20% of food fresh fruit and vegetables comes from countries in climate change crisis, and 40% of food is imported overall. So, what does that mean for food supplies in the future in the UK, and how will Brexit affect trading?
According to Sky News, the chair of the committee Mary Creagh said the UK is facing a crisis: “We are facing a food security crisis, exacerbated by uncertainty over the UK's future trading position with the EU and the rest of the world. Ministers must now publish all the information they hold from Operation Yellowhammer on food security and likely costs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
"More people are living in cities at risk from overheating and water shortages, they're breathing polluted air, eating more fast food and getting less exercise. What's needed is a planetary health champion to put this agenda at the heart of government."
The EAC state, “In the UK, food contributes up to 30 % of total greenhouse gas emissions, with food waste totalling 10 million tonnes every year.” This means working on food waste should be a top priority.
How this will affect poorer communities in the UK is a great concern to the EAC. With prices of fresh fruit and vegetables potentially on the rise, vulnerable groups like pensioners and children could find it harder to get hold of nutritious food.
The committee has suggested a number of steps the government should take to prevent a potential lack of healthy nutrition and food shortage for people living in the UK. Firstly, the government should start accepting advice from the committee in regards to food security risks, they should also put a plan in place for maintaining food security. There should be a promotion of healthier, more sustainable diets that don’t rely so heavily on meat and dairy.
Climate change is also affecting the number of pollinating insects, the committee warns. These insects contribute to the growth of lots of fruit and vegetables and are an “important form of reproduction for at least 87 types of common global food crops, accounting for more than a third of annual global food production by volume.”
If climate change is affecting the fresh produce coming to the UK – a country that won’t be one severely affected immediately, we can only imagine what it is doing to the people, and their food supplies, living in countries that will be. These are countries like the Bahamas, which are facing climate change disasters as a result of the West's overconsumption. The UK has a responsibility to act on climate change, not just for our own benefit, but globally for those who will be affected the most.