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26 Aug 2020, 12:26
Julian Wettengel

German government advisors call for binding “climate label” for food products

Clean Energy Wire

Germany is a laggard when it comes to sustainability in its food system in comparison to other European countries, the Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy, Food and Consumer Health Protection (WBAE) said in a report. “Existing framework conditions are not very helpful in Germany, responsibility is shifted too much to the individual, and many available support instruments are not used,” said the researchers. In terms of climate effects of the food supply, the advisors say the focus should be on reducing consumption of animal products and food waste. They call for abandoning the reduced VAT on animal products and introducing a sustainability tax as well as a binding “climate label” for all food products. The advisors write that consuming organic products and renouncing imported goods and products from fossil fuel-heated greenhouses can also contribute to a certain extent to a more environmentally friendly diet. In contrast, regional production is not always the first choice from a sustainability perspective, and reusable packaging is not always more environmentally friendly than disposable packaging, they write. Overall, the advisors highlight that “a comprehensive transformation of the food system makes sense, it is possible, and it should begin immediately.”

Germany must find a way to reduce its agricultural emissions, which make up about 8 percent of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by mid-century, and to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. However, the German food system’s climate footprint is much larger, with a large part of emissions happening in other countries. Overall, the share of food-system related emissions in total GHG emissions is about 30 percent globally, and 25 percent in Germany, write the advisors.

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