When the COP26 climate conference took place in Scotland last year, participants got something they probably hadn’t seen before — menus that listed the carbon footprint for every item on offer, from salads and vegetarian sandwiches (per A Recipe for Change) to fish and chips (1.1 kg of carbon per A Recipe for Change) and Scottish beef burgers (3.9 kg of carbon, per A Recipe for Change).
Carbon Food Labels May Be Coming. Here’s What They Mean
There was a reason for this, says food activist Klimato — which was partly responsible for pulling the carbon footprint information together. They felt that despite food being responsible for generating just over a third of the world’s carbon emissions, it was noticeably absent from the COP26 agenda. Adding the carbon footprint was a way of ensuring that “food’s impact on the climate was not going to fly under the radar.”
Today, scientists are asking whether having carbon labels on food items might actually help people make more informed choices, not only about the food they consume, but also the ingredients they buy. Chief Scientific Adviser for the U.K. Food Standards Agency thinks it might. “People are much more attentive to food now,” May says, per Financial Times. “We know that a very significant portion of the population has shifted their diet or tried to shift their diet in the last 12 to 18 months in order to become more sustainable [and] Consumers [have a right to] honest, transparent labelling of food.”