Is net zero really achievable for the food and drink industry?

Climate change is the great challenge of our time – a problem so big, that tackling it requires co-operation on a scale we have never seen before.

Our reliance on fossil fuels means that most aspects of our lives as individuals, and the economies we rely on, contribute to rising temperatures.

And the food and drink industry is central to that.

There is no getting away from the fact that the global food and drink industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions; estimated to make up 20 to 30 percent of the total.

That means the industry has to play its part when it comes to striving achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Net zero means cutting emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed.

By doing so, the United Nations says, we may be able to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and therefore limit the worst impacts of climate change.

But that is easier said than done. Scientists are already predicting that we will exceed that temperature within five years, albeit temporarily.

Targets have been set and good work is being done, but there is plenty more still to do.

So, in this episode of the Food Matters Live podcast, we ask: How is the food industry doing when it comes to its net zero targets?

How do we speed up the pace of change?

And what challenges lie ahead?

Andy Wright, Director of Responsible Business, Samworth Brothers

A passionate sustainability leader, with over 15 years’ experience advising business on environmental leadership.

Focused on helping companies grow sustainably by developing people, strategies and brand.

A strong reputation for challenging existing thinking, building relationships and making change happen.

Andy became Director of Responsible Business at Samworth Brothers in May 2023.

Emma Piercy, Head of Climate Change and Energy Policy, Food and Drink Federation

Emma joined the Food and Drink Federation in October 2019 and has led on developing and now delivering the sector’s Roadmap to Net Zero. 

Emma spends time working with stakeholders across the farm-to-fork supply chain and with other industrial sectors, to help food and drink manufacturing in the decarbonisation challenges ahead. 

Building upon the momentum created by the UK hosting COP26, Emma is focused on industry alliances to tackle the shared challenges and align on industry led solutions. 

Before joining FDF, Emma held a number of policy and regulation roles with RWE AG, RWE Npower Cogen, Elexon, Sustainable Energy Association, First Utility (now Shell Energy) and National Grid Gas.

Smoke from factory pipe against dark overcast sky

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Is net zero really achievable for the food and drink industry?