QF discussion examines potential solutions to the planet’s worsening environmental challenges

    06 Dec 2021

    Consumers, big businesses, and governments must take action to lighten the burden that food production and consumption take on the world’s troubled environment, experts told Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates’ #DearWorldLive program, The Peninsula Qatar reports.

    Before the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26), the UN said 34% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, processing, and packaging. According to UN reports, food distribution and food waste take a further toll on the environment, contributing to the record number of droughts, floods, and famines in recent years.

    The fourth season of #DearWorldLive features three episodes devoted to finding solutions to the world’s climate crisis. In the first episode, “Climate Change and the Future of Food,” an environmentalist and a food industry advocate agreed – despite representing different sides of the issue – that individual and collective action must be taken to diminish food’s contribution to climate change.

    Lana Weidgenant, a food-focused climate advocate with the youth-led Zero Hour movement, said government and big business leaders often say the right things, but fail to deliver when it matters. “I’ve seen a lot of talk by world leaders, but not any action,” Weidgenant said, adding, “We don’t have time to waste with fake promises.”

    Emma Piercy, the head of climate change and energy policy for the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, called for collaborative corrective action: “We need practical, real solutions developed with all stakeholders involved.”

    Despite increasing tension over how to solve climate change, Piercy said, “We really need to have a practical debate rather than it getting quite polarized.” She also defended the food industry, saying they intend to be part of the solution: “Things have evolved today. The momentum around reducing carbon emissions, sustainability, and net-zero has increased massively.”

    Muhammad Alif Naufal, a student in Qatar, voiced concerns about the prospect of food costs increasing due to ethically-responsible farming practices, stating, “Not everyone is privileged, so I think it’s a bit difficult if prices are to double or even triple. Not everyone would be able to afford these more organic or green products.”

    #DearWorldLive host Nelufar Hedayat closed the program by asking what actions individuals can and should take to address climate change. Weidgenant called for consumers to do their part by shifting to a plant-forward diet since meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment.

    Piercy said, “On a personal level, it’s about practicing what you preach. I try to reduce my food waste to hopefully zero. I look at the car I’m driving, the travel. It’s about what we can do that our friends, colleagues, and neighbors can take examples from.”

    Naufal added that he does his part by changing his diet and trying to reduce his food waste, “especially when I order in restaurants.”

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