Carbon pollution

The report said it was highly likely the net-zero target would be missed without more support from government

Food leaders have warned there needs to be a “step change” in government energy financial incentives if the industry is to hit its target of a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.

A report by the Food & Drink Federation and consultants SLR today also called for the establishment of an industry-wide taskforce to look at ways the food and drink industry could reach the goal.

But it said that without more support from government it was highly likely the target would be missed.

In June 2019, the government put into legislation its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 80% to net zero by 2050, but the report said it was “unclear” how it intended to reach the target.

The report predicts the industry would only be able to reduce emissions from heat by 64% by 2050 compared with 2012 unless there are further interventions, thereby missing the net-zero target.

The FDF said ensuring further collaboration between industry and government was vital to achieving these targets.

It called for new climate change agreements post 2025, which would shift the focus to carbon reductions. It also urged ministers to design a financial support scheme for industrial decarbonisation.

The report also proposes the setting up of a cross-industry taskforce to work on an alignment of objectives on how to utilise limited sources such as food waste biomass, which it said would be key to ensuring optimal green growth and deployment across the supply chain.

“As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry are absolutely committed to a green recovery post Covid-19 and achieving the government’s net-zero carbon target by 2050,” said Emma Piercy, FDF head of energy and climate change.

“In producing this report, we have identified a clear pathway to net-zero and the challenges we will need to overcome in order to meet that target.

“But we can’t do it alone. Businesses will need clear direction and support to make that transition.”

Julie Gartside, European operations manager for advisory services at SLR, added: “There are reasons to be optimistic because deep decarbonisation of heat used by the food and drink sector is technically possible

“However, the changes required to manufacturing processes and energy supply systems to achieve it are so significant that the sector cannot do this alone.

“Collaboration between the food and drink sector, government, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders will be needed to realise the opportunity before us.”