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Why the Food and Drinks Sector needs to aim for Net Zero & Beyond by 2030

Arguably, no part of the economy will be hit harder by climate change than the Food & Drinks sector. We see Brazilian growers of arabica coffee threatened by 1 degrees of warming with 25% reductions in yields; European wine producers being pressed by a warming climate; Indonesian cocoa farmers watching on as their yields are halved. The crops which we find on supermarket shelves and within our favourite products do not have the resilience to face the incoming disruption caused by the climate crisis. For our own sake, F&D businesses must step up and begin their journey towards Net Zero & Beyond by 2030. We must stand up together to protect our planet and the peoples’ livelihoods which depend on it. After all, the future will be green, or there will be no future.

It’s not just the climate which is changing. Consumer choices are starting to reflect ethical and environmental concerns, and businesses will have to adapt. A recent study in the US and UK found that 88% of consumers want brands to help them consume in a more ethical and environmental way; Positive Impact Companies are filling this void. Regenerative agriculture and vertical farming are redesigning our food systems from the roots up; realising the soil’s potential for carbon sequestration and improving efficiency on all fronts. While the rise of plant-based and flexitarian diets provides an enormous opportunity for changemakers to inspire and participate in climate action. By 2025, vegan and vegetarians are set to make up a quarter of the UK population, and 7.2 million British adults are already meat-free. Local sourcing from regenerative agriculture and embracing the plant-based revolution are essential steps to kick-start your journey towards Net Zero & Beyond.

It has become clear that the only government practice effectively curbing emissions in the past few decades has been regulation. So, as policymakers seek to attract eco-conscious voters, they will be pushing for stricter measures; the result being costly restructuring for multinational corporations. By recognising our interdependence with the planet, Regenerative businesses remain ahead of the curve; pushing for environmental regulation not lobbying against it. This shelters us from the costs and technicalities which come with an increasingly complicated regulatory framework.

Finance has a poor track record for prioritising natural capital and social value; but even here we are seeing a culture shift. ESG funds and green finance initiatives are beginning to redirect capital flows towards worthy causes, although there are of course limits to this (as we discuss in a previous article). A 2019 report on ESG by McKinsey & Company found that “global sustainable investment now tops $30 trillion—up 68 percent since 2014 and tenfold since 2004.” By pursuing noble causes, Regenerative businesses can also attract that much-needed investment to widen their Positive impact.

In the age of what David Graeber famously described as “Bullshit Jobs”, around 40% of the UK’s working population view their job as meaningless and/or contributing nothing of value to the world. Being born under the influence of a transformational purpose, Regenerative businesses can fight back against the attack on workers’ spirit and creativity, offering opportunities to make real, Positive change in the world. A global survey discovered that almost three-quarters of respondents wanted a job where they feel like their work matters. This means Positive Impact Companies have an edge in attracting the top socially-driven professionals.

The climb to Net Zero & Beyond can seem daunting, but equipped with the Positive Compass and our practical Net Zero toolkit, SMEs can make it. Rising from Level 1 to Level 5, we have set out a steady path from reducing direct emissions, to tackling your footprint within the supply chain, and finally becoming a wayshower with a net positive impact. Our Positive Impact Community is founded on the principle of Radical Collaboration, hence no business will be alone on the beaten path to Net Zero & Beyond. Take that first step and join our community of Positive Impact Companies in pledging to our F&D Manifesto.

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