Musings, politics and environmental issues

Posts tagged ‘Food waste’

Ambitious climate programme ignored

Is climate change considered unimportant by Iceland’s citizens? Early in the week, the Icelandic government unrolled an ambitious Action Plan to tackle climate change, with the goal of being carbon-neutral by 2030. But no one is talking about it. Progressive trade union leaders, politicians and the general public remain stuck in the traditional “we need more money to live on” mindset and criticize elements of the Budget related to that.

Iceland’s PM, Katrin Jakobsdottir, is from the Left-Green Party, which is the second-largest party in the parliamentary Althingi and is part of a three-party ruling coalition with the conservative Independent Party (the biggest party in the Althingi) and the central Progressive Party. The Left-Greens have been accused of pandering to the Independent Party and ignoring their own demands. There may be some truth in that, given that it’s a difficult situation and requires a balancing act to get matters through.

Although the Climate Action Plan has elements from six ministries in it, it was primarily the responsibility of the environment ministry and its minister, Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson. And he is from the Left-Green Party. Jakobsdottir signalled the plan as a watershed in Icelandic environmental matters, with increased funds put aside to follow up the 34 actions on the list.

The main emphasis is on alternative forms of energy for vehicles, especially land-based ones, as registration of new vehicles fuelled by diesel or petrol will not be allowed from 2030. Increased carbon sequestration by forestry and land reclamation is another emphasis, along with wetlands reclamation – maybe this will include increased funding for the Wetland Fund, which was set up earlier this year. The ministries used the services of environmental consultancy Environice during the development of the strategy.

The Action Plan is only available in Icelandic, but can be downloaded here. Mention is made of food waste in Iceland, which is the first time I’ve seen quantifiable figures, namely 120 kg per person from the catering and restaurant sector and 60 kg/person from individuals.

It’s worthy of consideration and shouldn’t be ignored.

Food waste

A new British report called Global Food: Waste Not, Want Not has documented that, globally, 30-50% of all food is wasted, equivalent to 1.2–2 billion tonnes of food. The report, by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, says that the reasons for this are inadequate storage facilities, bulk-buying by supermarkets (and the ensuing “Buy one, get one free” ploy), cosmetic defects, fussiness of consumers and over-strict adherence to “Sell by” dates. It says that up to 30% of crops grown in Britain are left to rot in the fields because of cosmetic defects and that up to 50% of food bought by European and American consumers is thrown away. The report also points out that 550 billion m3 of water are used for growing crops which never reach the consumer, and that it takes 20-50 times more water to produce one kg of meat than one kg of vegetables.
In the past, some people have responded to claims by agro-industrialists that we need genetically modified crops or more pesticides to feed the world by pointing out that it is not a lack of food that is the problem but rather the distribution of it. Now it seems that we also have to work on changing mindsets, concerning consumers, food buyers for supermarkets and food manufacturers. And encourage people to buy locally.