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CIAA messages in view of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen


26 Nov 2009


Health & Consumers
Agriculture & Food

The European food and drink industry, represented by CIAA, calls upon governments gathered at the UNFCCC COP-15 Conference in Copenhagen on 7 - 18 December 2009, to undertake all efforts to enable a legally binding, environmentally effective and globally equitable international agreement on climate change, covering the period 2013-2050. An ambitious agreement is needed to adequately address the dual global challenge of food security and climate change. EU industries are part of the solution to this challenge and require a level-playing-field at international level. Developing countries must be granted adequate long-term support for both mitigation and adaptation.

1. Climate change and the food and drink industries:
Food security and climate change will be two of this century’s key global challenges. Both are intrinsically linked. Every day, about 500 million EU citizens and 6,8 billion people worldwide rely on high quality food for their subsistence, nutrition, health and well-being. The world population is expected to increase to about 9 billion people by 2050 (UN 2008). Predictions of future food demand suggest necessary increases in food production of at least 50%.

The food and drink sector, in providing this vital nutritional contribution to humankind, crucially depends on healthy eco-systems in which its raw materials are grown. The sector is particularly vulnerable to the harmful consequences of climate change on the availability of agricultural raw materials, both in terms of quality and quantity.

Climate change is expected to have a profound impact on food production (IPCC 2007a). Rising temperatures, altered rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme events will increasingly affect agricultural productivity. While climate change will affect different regions in a different manner, effects such as extreme heat, drought, salinity and flooding (IPCC 2007b) will exacerbate stresses on crop plants and will effect soil fertility, water availability and the incidence of pests, diseases and weeds.

The industry shares a strong common interest with policy makers, consumers and society worldwide to create an environmentally effective and globally equitable legal framework on climate change which will enable the sector to deliver continuous cuts in GHG emissions without compromising its vital contribution to the nutritional, economic and social wellbeing of a growing world population. The importance of this balance is recognised in Article 2 of the UN Convention on Climate Change. It must also form a central part of a new UN agreement.

A legally-binding global agreement on climate change is also crucial for preserving the international competitiveness of the EU manufacturing sector, including the food and drink industries. EU policies have to support exposed EU industry sectors in remaining competitive inside Europe. Globally effective climate change policies require a globally equitable treatment of sectors subject to international competition.

The EU food and drink manufacturing industry accounts for about 1,5% of total EU-27 GHG emissions. Between 2003 and 2007 the sector’s direct GHG emissions from food and drink processing fell by 12,6%. The industry is actively committed to continuously reducing its own emissions in support of the EU’s targets for 2020 and to contributing in an equitable manner to the required long-term GHG emission cuts for 2050.

The food and drink industry is also working closely with its food chain partners, including suppliers to agriculture, farmers, retailers and consumers, recognising the importance of tackling GHG emissions across the full life cycle of food production and consumption. The large-scale role out of low-carbon technology and practices as well as increased investment in R&D and eco-innovation hold the potential for significant long-term cuts in GHG emissions. Consumers play a key role in mitigating climate change too, e.g. through their purchasing decisions and the way they prepare food and avoid food waste. The voluntary provision of scientifically reliable and consistent environmental information will support them in this role.

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