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Dairy Products and Meat

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 7781, tabled on 26 May 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to the press release of the 6th carbon budget, UK enshrines new target in law to slash emissions by 78% by 2035, published on 20 April 2021, for what reasons the Government does not plan to implement the advice of the Committee on Climate Change for low-cost, low-regret actions for a 20 per cent shift away from meat and dairy products by 2030 as part of the balanced net zero pathway as part of its policy position on diet change; and if he will make a statement.

Answered on

11 June 2021

We recognise the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions made by the livestock and dairy sectors. In 2019 - the most recent year for which emissions data is available - livestock emissions represented 60% of agricultural emissions (27.9Mt CO2e). Evidence shows that plant-based food products are generally less carbon intensive to produce than livestock products. While food choices and improved farming practices have an impact on these emissions, well-managed livestock can also provide environmental benefits such as contributing to protection of soil carbon in existing pastures, supporting biodiversity, protecting the character of the countryside and creating employment for rural communities. We recognise the delicate balance between these outcomes and the potential environmental trade-offs, and will ensure decision-making is evidence led.

Achieving the net zero target is a priority for the Government, and we are developing a range of measures through the Agriculture Act, our future farming policy, our forthcoming Food Strategy White Paper and the 25 Year Environment Plan, all with the aim of enabling farmers to optimise sustainable food production, reduce emissions from agriculture and allow consumer choices to drive those changes.

Part Two of Henry Dimbleby’s independent review of the food system will be published in July 2021. It will include a root and branch examination of the food system as it is today and the forces that shape it. The Government has committed to responding to the Review’s recommendations in the form of a Food Strategy White Paper within six months of the release of the final report. The Government is committed to developing a food strategy that will support the development of a food system that is sustainable, resilient and affordable, that will support people to live healthy lives, and that will protect animal health and welfare.