Emissions ‘dumped’ on poorer countries,with half created overseas

The Fairtrade Foundation is calling on the Government to work harder to clean up food supply chains and tackle the vast amount of carbon emissions ‘hidden’ in imported food and products.

In a new report published to mark Fairtrade Fortnight the Fairtrade Foundation argues that current efforts from Government and business fall short of what is needed to protect small-scale farmers on the frontline of the climate crisis in low-income countries.

The report, A Climate of Crisis: farmers, our food and the fight for justice, highlights the problem of the UK’s ‘hidden’ carbon footprint: the greenhouse gas emissions generated overseas (including in poorer, climate-vulnerable nations) to create food and produce to meet UK demand. Figures show that nearly half (46 per cent) of emissions linked to UK consumption are in fact created overseas, while 54 per cent is domestically produced.

As the UK’s climate targets (as with nearly all other countries’) only address its domestic footprint, not offshore emissions the Fairtrade Foundation is now urging the UK to ‘stop dumping our emissions’ on poorer nations and take responsibility for its ‘true carbon footprint’, by including offshore emissions in its net-zero target.

Fairtrade Foundation CEO Mike Gidney said: ‘Although the UK is on a welcome path to net-zero emissions, if we don’t own up to our hidden emissions, our climate policy will never fully succeed in driving down our true footprint, and we will fail the small-scale producers overseas who grow the food we Brits love to consume. Fairtrade Foundation believes these invisible emissions are, ultimately, the UK’s responsibility: they take a heavy toll on the farmers who keep our shelves stocked and fridges full, and who are disproportionately affected by climate change.”

The Fairtrade Foundation wants the Government to include international aviation and shipping in its carbon budgets and set out a clear policy to reduce these emissions, as recommended by the UK’s Climate Change Committee. “We believe this would be a powerful way for the UK to take ownership of this issue and it would also show strong leadership to other nations as we prepare to host COP26 in Glasgow later this year,” said Mr Gidney.

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