COP27 was a game of two halves.
On the one hand, there is cause for celebration due to the creation of a Loss and Damage fund which will provide financial assistance to the Global South which is disproportionately affected by climate disasters. The Parties also recognised the need to transition to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
But this is not enough.
There was a failure to address food systems.
This nexus between unsustainable food systems and the environment is at the heart of the climate emergency we currently find ourselves in. Such an omission means we are at risk of not meeting the global climate targets such as those set out in the Paris Agreement.
Humans only represent 0.01% of all life on earth, yet our actions control the other 99.99%’s destiny.
Going into the Conference it was clear what was needed and the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres even opened with a clear warning:
“We’re on a highway to climate hell, with our foot still on the accelerator.”
Throughout our presence at the summit, our key focus was food systems. We hosted four high-level panels bringing together illustrious decision-makers, legislators, academics, and experts from across multiple sectors to discuss food system policies, agricultural methane, pandemic prevention, and sustainable livestock management systems.
But despite our substantial role at COP27 it sadly did not translate into concrete actions by the Parties. Even the long-awaited decision by parties on the future of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) was a missed opportunity. The new Sharm el-Sheikh iteration on agriculture and food security shockingly saw references to food systems taken out and replaced and a serious lack of ambition to cut related emissions.
Given that food systems make up a third of manmade greenhouse gases –including food waste and diets – this is not just about adapting production practices, we need urgent emission reductions. But world leaders failed to deliver on this fundamental issue.
Despite a gathering of more than 100 heads of State and Government, many of which recognised the need to transition to more sustainable consumption patterns, and regardless of agriculture being discussed longer than any other item, a solid outcome that delivers for animals did not emerge. It will be left to progressive states and NGOs to work together to ensure food and farming policies remain part of the next four-year Sharm el-Sheikh package.
It's clear that others are aware of the missed opportunities too.
The Shadow Secretary for Climate Change and Net Zero, Ed Miliband delivered a damning review “the summit failed.” This sweeping statement was based on the failure to keep global heating to just 1.5C and also the potential new fossil fuel licenses that the UK is allegedly rushing to grant.
One thing is clear, we can no longer continue to ignore the cow in the room; without changing our food systems, the climate crisis cannot be stopped.