All food system activities together, including the production, processing, transportation, preparation, marketing, consumption, and wasting of food, form a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, with animal-based foods dominating the impact. At the same time, unbalanced diets – in particular, high consumption of red and processed meat and low consumption of plant-based foods – are causing major health problems. Billions of dollars are spent annually on marketing unhealthy foods that are high in calories, fats, sugars, and salt. A shift in diets where healthier, plant-based products are produced, marketed, and consumed would have great potential to simultaneously mitigate climate change and improve public health.
In this paper, a group of scientists from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), the University of Helsinki, and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), at the request of CLC, present their recommendations of the actions required to move towards a more environmentally friendly and healthy food system. These recommendations provide guidelines for the development of legislation towards a more environmentally friendly and healthy food system. This shift is essential for climate change mitigation and the well-being of societies.
- Re-direct incentives towards food that promotes both public health and climate change mitigation (e.g. plant proteins and plant-based food)
- Direct public and private investments to support the building of novel, sustainable and health-promoting value chains in food systems
- Scrap environmentally unsustainable agricultural subsidies whilst simultaneously supporting primary producers in the transition
- Ensure that food procurement criteria for food services (e.g. school and other catering) include and prioritise health and sustainability
- Standardise health and environmental labelling of food products
– Re-structure incentives in the agricultural sector in the EU to better financially support sustainable food production, and thus help increase the affordability, accessibility and availability of healthy, nutritious and environmentally friendly food.
– Market-based solutions can help create financially and sustainably viable agricultural system. Efficient carbon pricing and transparent marketplace for carbon sinks are needed to supporting farmers and society to decarbonize the food system.
– Support technology and research development in the agricultural sector (e.g. vertical farming, plant-based protein, cell-based agriculture) to assist actors in the supply chain of sustainable food production.
– The new CAP implementation period for 2025 onwards should support and promote increasing carbon sinks and storages, help reduce emissions in the agricultural sector and reduce the land use requirements. It is particularly important to ensure alignment with EU Sustainable Finance Taxonomy in the future.
Please read the full CLC Policy Paper on Co-benefits of healthy food on public health and climate here.
For more information, please contact CLC Development Director, Systemic Climate Solutions, Juha Turkki (juha.turkki(a)clc.fi).