Amendment 236A

Part of Agriculture Bill - Committee (6th Day) – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 23rd July 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 9:15 pm, 23rd July 2020

My Lords, I am very pleased to support Amendment 236A in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington, with whom I agree that there is an appetite within the House to put climate change more to the front and centre of this Bill, although it is in Clause 1. She picks up on the point that I tried to make last time we discussed climate change, about making a payment scheme for the farmers, so that climate mitigation is what they are aiming for when they are farming. That is well covered in subsection (b) of her proposed new clause.

Turning to Amendment 253A in my name, I am grateful for the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb. She has already underlined the importance of accurate food labelling, which I so agree with. My amendment makes provision for information on the greenhouse gases emitted during the lifecycle of agricultural products to be available to consumers at the point of sale, such as on packaging, and offers financial assistance for producers and accreditation bodies to compile this information.

There are three key points to bear in mind. About a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from food. On average, each person in the world causes six kilos of emissions every day because of the food that they eat. By 2030, only 10 years from now, we will need to halve our emissions. That will correspond to the average person causing three kilos of emissions every day for food. In assessing how the greenhouse gas figure is calculated, we must add up the greenhouse gas emissions from all parts of the food chain, including growing, clearing the land, processing, manufacturing, packaging and transportation, as well as cooking the food at home and disposing of any waste. That is not an impractical proposition. Some food is already labelled for greenhouse gas emissions, but this gives us all a role that we can play in tackling climate change. For most people climate change is too big a subject, and they feel they cannot actively contribute themselves. However, they can by changing their diet.

On labelling, I draw my noble friend’s and the Committee’s attention to our recommendation in our Hungry for Change report. In paragraph 324, we recommend that

“the Government should conduct a review of labelling on food and drinks products.”

We go on to say:

“The new regulations should be compulsory for all food manufacturers and retailers.”

It was for that reason that I included in my amendment the paragraph relating to provision of financial assistance for businesses towards the cost of providing that information. A lot of work has to be done on this, but it is a market for the future, and one in which everybody in this country can play their part.

The Minister has not warmly accepted any of my amendments, but I hope he will accept my recommendation that he and his officials read a book that is about to be published, called Food and Climate Change Without the Hot Air, by Professor Bridle of Manchester University. It will be published on 3 September, but advance copies can be obtained in August. It would be extremely useful if my noble friend, and particularly his officials, could read that book before Report, because I hope it will influence their thinking.

I commend my amendment on greenhouse gas labelling to the Government.