Academics from Cranfield have responded to the recent report ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’, by the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change. This report presents a number of suggested measures to reduce emissions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Professor Tim Hess, Professor of Water and Food Systems at Cranfield University, said: “There are lots of good reasons to eat less meat - especially to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and for health reasons - and although it would reduce water consumption that is only part of the story. If we ate less meat, we would inevitably substitute it with more fruit and vegetables.”
“In the UK, we import more than 65% of our fruit and vegetables, often from highly stressed water environments such as Spain, Morocco and South Africa. A large-scale increase in fruit and vegetable consumption within the UK is likely to add to the water stress on these nations, unless UK eating habits change to fruit and vegetables that can be grown domestically. If we could switch the UK consumer from avocado to turnips, for example, then the impact on water resources would be minimal.
Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood, at Cranfield University and co-lead of the new BBSRC Quality and Food Loss Network, said: “We can do so much more to reduce food waste, through postharvest science and application of technology in the food supply chain. The new BBSRC Quality and Food Loss Network will play a vital role in helping the UK’s understand how it can meet and exceed its targets for food waste reduction by bringing together the UK’s leading scientists and industry.”
Dr Adrian Williams, Reader in Environmental Systems at Cranfield University, said: “It’s vital that we understand how any shift in diet affects the whole lifecycle. From our previous work with similar dietary changes, this would mean a significant change in UK land use. A major reduction in red meat and dairy would release large amounts of UK grassland from livestock production and increase the need for more cropland. This could possibly be achieved by the conversion of rotational grassland areas.