On 1st March, the Square Meal Group hosted an event to discuss how a more sustainable food system could help tackle climate change. Expertly chaired by Professor Tim Benton, it was a lively and stimulating afternoon covering: the need to reduce our meat consumption, whose role it is to take the lead in driving change, and how big policy tools like the CAP could work so much harder for people and the environment. A panel of MPs from three Select committees grilled the speakers on their proposals.
The audience was reminded of the important challenges facing the food system and the commitments made at the Paris climate talks and under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on sustainable consumption and production. Given this background, the Square Meal report is, if anything, even more relevant now than it was when published two years ago. It is an example of the holistic and multi-faceted approach that is needed, looking at ecology, public health and the social and economic impacts of food production.
The panel of MPs heard from Laura Wellesley, who presented Chatham House’s report Changing Climate, Changing Diets. She highlighted the problems associated with high levels of meat consumption and looked at possible ways to reduce consumption. Guy Watson, founder of Riverford Organics, looked at the role that farmers can play in improving the sustainability of agriculture. Finally, Martin Nesbit of IEEP gave a personal overview of how CAP reform could help create a better food system.
Laura Wellesley from Chatham House
Guy Watson from Riverford Organic Farms
Martin Nesbit from IEEP
Select Committee Panel of MPs
Mary Creagh MP (Environmental Audit Committee)
James Heappey MP (Energy and Climate Change Committee)
Angela Smith MP (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee)