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Government sets out food decarbonisation plan

More research and development, increased uptake of state-of-the-art technologies and better use of bioresources are some of the principal actions outlined in the UK government’s new decarbonisation plan for the food and drink sector.

The plan was published alongside the Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out (vaguely) how the UK can meet its carbon emission reduction targets, whilst at the same time driving economic growth.

A consultation was also launched on extending mandatory reporting of carbon and energy use in annual reports beyond listed companies.

“The purpose of reporting is to raise awareness with decision makers within companies, and to inform markets and government policies,” said climate change and industry minister Claire Perry. “The message we want businesses to hear is that energy is a controllable cost.”

The Food and Drink Federation, Dairy UK and the Scotch Whisky Association, as well as the British Beer and Pub Association, have all backed the food sector’s plan.

FDF said the plan is “an important milestone” in helping processors achieve the target of a 55% reduction in emissions by 2025, as set out in its Ambition 2025. “The plan identifies a number of specific opportunities which will make a substantive contribution to emissions reductions and improve energy use productivity,” the Federation said.

One of the first steps will be the launch of a web portal that “facilitates greater industry collaboration by enabling companies in the food and drink sector and research organisations to share information on R&D, best practice, knowledge and access to funding opportunities”.

There will also be a new expert group to assess “the best uses of bioresources across the economy” and any new policies required to drive uptake.

As part of the UK’s commitment to the Climate Change Act the government is required to publish a plan that sets out how the UK will decarbonise its economy through the 2020s. Emissions have already been cut by 42% since 1990, but the target is 80% by 2050. Food and drink is one of eight sectors that the government needs to decarbonise in order to meet its reduction commitments.