The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, will be held in Glasgow Scotland October 31 to November 12. The international conference aims to evaluate past goals and set new targets to address the climate crisis. The COP26 goals include reducing global emissions by investing in renewable energy and addressing global climate inequities to support communities and natural habitats that are already endangered by climate change.
COP26 engages with climate change on an international scale, looking for ways to solidify and act on goals set at previous conferences. However, local governments including city government also can play an active role in implementing policies and programs to fight climate change and build resilient communities.
As part of our work to #ActOnClimate, Salt Lake City became a signatory to the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration: “A commitment by subnational governments to tackle the climate emergency through integrated food policies and a call on national governments to act.”
Salt Lake City’s growing food programs, which include the Food Policy Council and the Resident Food Equity Advisors, are already advancing policy to help build a more equitable and accessible food system. The Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration ties in another important aspect of their work– the connection between food systems and climate resilience.
Food & Climate
While it may seem surprising, food systems are an important part of understanding and addressing climate change. Indeed, plant-based and meat based foods, packaging, transportation, and land use all contribute varying degrees of emissions that contribute to global warming. It has been estimated that food waste alone produces enough green house gases that if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter! In total, Global Food Systems account for 1/3 of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In Utah, only 2% of vegetables and 3% of fruit consumed is in grown in-state. Moreover, in Utah, 25% of our household emissions are caused by our food choices. We can help shrink our individual impact by reducing our meat consumption, avoiding food waste, and eating locally-grown food when possible. SLCgreen’s Dining with Discretion page outlines many useful resources to help you eat healthy and sustainably!
What is Salt Lake City Doing?
Salt Lake City’s climate action goals and policy includes the local food system alongside other key initiatives to mitigate climate change. The Salt Lake City Food Policy Council is already working to address inequities tied to environmental racism and the food system. This year, the Food Policy Council joined the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Policy Council initiative to create more equitable food policies. In addition to this work, the first cohort of Salt Lake City’s Resident Food Equity Advisors provided a detail report to the City to help set priorities that will guide future decisions related to local food. In an effort to understand our local food system more fully, the Salt Lake City Food Policy Council is also taking steps to update our Community Food Assessment, including climate as an assessment factor.
By signing the Glasgow Food & Climate Declaration, Salt Lake City signals our support for more sustainable food policies that will help drive climate action. Moreover, coupled with the efforts already being made to create a more accessible local food system, Salt Lake City’s participation in the declaration shows our commitment to holistic and community focused strategies to act on climate and better understand our food system.