Looking through a net zero lens ahead of COP26

Cop26 President, Alok SharmaCop26 President, Alok Sharma
Cop26 President, Alok Sharma
With COP26 fast approaching, now is the time for businesses to get fired up on climate.

Despite a gloomy big picture emerging from the likes of the recent IPCC report, businesses are starting to offer hope with innovative strategies designed to tackle climate change piece by piece – because for any business leader out there, there is no greater challenge.

Today the food industry is facing intense challenges never seen before – Covid-19, labour shortages and now the CO2 crisis. However, I’ve worked in many roles across the food industry since starting out as a Saturday boy in a local butchers, and there is no doubt that climate change is our biggest threat yet. We have to get this right.

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Food systems and how we consume food, lies at the heart of tackling the climate crisis which means reducing emissions and pollution, preventing waste and water stress, restoring biodiversity and protecting the world’s wildlife.

The challenge is food systems are hugely complex, spanning not only environmental issues but equity, health dimensions and more. So, we need to push for truly ‘good food’, delivered by systems that tackle health and climate change head on.

At Cranswick we see our role as twofold – making low-impact, nutrient dense food products and using our scale to make a quality diet accessible to everyone. Meat plays a critical role here and we believe we can achieve both. It is complicated, but it is critical that we think and work this way. We can’t have a healthy planet without healthy people.

We are focused on rapid decarbonisation across our operations while investing to protect and restore the environment. Fourteen of our sites across the country, from Yorkshire to Norfolk and Northern Ireland, have now achieved certified carbon neutral status.

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Action taken to date includes cutting food waste, installing heat recovery systems, switching to 100 per cent renewable electricity and LED lighting.

Carbon neutral manufacturing is a critical milestone in our net zero journey, but this is just a starting point. For example, we’re also investing in historical carbon removal and supporting climate-resilient infrastructure at a global level, including projects that actively prevent deforestation and protect nature.

But our greatest opportunity to offset emissions is in collaboration with our own UK farms and farming partners, who are a critical part of the supply chain and have crucial assets – land and nature.

There is no silver bullet, but we now look at everything we do through a net zero lens and it’s enabling us to be agile and innovative in our approach. Setting distant targets is not enough; we need to make immediate, practical changes to stand a fighting chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees. We cannot afford to wait to act against the threat of climate change.

Now is the time for all businesses to step up and work together to protect our planet and people and ensure a greener future for all.