And so we go again. Today marks the beginning of another COP summit, another round of talks, another bid to address the Earth’s capitulating climate and its lethal impact on millions of lives around the world.

Whether you’re a believer in COP or not, there won’t be any landmark agreements this year. The Egyptian presidency has called it the “implementation” summit, which will look to turn past commitments into reality.

Talks are expected to focus on who should pay for the harm done by recent extreme weather events, whether rich countries will ever follow through on their pledge to provide $100bn of climate finance each year, and where we are on the road to cutting methane emissions by 30% by the end of the decade.

Given the lower profile of COP27, as well its location outside the UK, fewer food companies are using it to brandish their own eco-credentials this year. Beyond Coca-Cola’s widely criticised sponsorship of the event – plus a report last week from a coalition including Bayer, Mars, and McDonald’s on the need for faster climate action –  there has been little climate-linked publicity.

It’s perhaps for the best. The world is surely a richer place without yet another broken promise. And with more and more summits failing to agree meaningful action, it seems inevitable more and more people will start to take Greta Thunberg’s view that the summits are simply a PR stunt “for leaders and people in power to get attention”. No one wants to be associated with that.

Where COP does typically succeed is shining a spotlight on the climate issues that can all too often fade into the background when competing for attention with the war in Ukraine, soaring inflation, and a global energy crisis.

Food itself is, of course, in urgent need of reform  – with the global sector expected to be the biggest contributor to climate change by 2050. Already, agriculture and land change are responsible for contributing 23% of human-linked greenhouse gases, according to the IPCC. But while the UK often likes to paint itself as a global leader on these issues, in reality the progress is agonisingly slow.

In farming, for example, the NFU says British agriculture will be net zero by 2040. Yet today just 17% of farmers are working towards this target, a recent survey on the Farming Forum found. Even at major supermarkets, the interest in climate action is sometimes slipping. “The question ‘do we have to do net zero now?’ is a live topic of conversation,” said one senior supermarket source earlier this year.

Many of the world’s largest food and agricultural businesses talk a good game in public on the environment. But when it comes to following through, they all too often fall short. Following the report from Bayer, Mars, McDonald’s last week, critics pointed out these companies are some of the most responsible for climate mismanagement. Yet they fail to address what is really needed: a rethink of the whole system.

As Devlin Kuyek, a researcher at non-profit organisation Grain, told the Guardian: “I don’t think any of these companies – say a McDonald’s – has any commitment to curtail the sales of highly polluting products. I don’t think PepsiCo is going to say the world doesn’t need Pepsi.”

The harsh truth is, without cutting consumption, any climate efforts are fatally undermined. Report after report has concluded technology and innovation alone cannot solve existential environmental problems unless accompanied by structural change.

The problem is, overconsumption is nearly always baked into business models. Selling less may be good for the environment but it’s famously bad for business. Instead of yet another plastic pledge or ‘Co-op27’ rebranding, maybe this year should be the start of food companies grasping the nettle and doing what we need to do for the climate, not the bottom line.