The government is considering changing the date against which UK food and drink manufacturers will be targeted for carbon dioxide emissions reductions to 1999.
The move is being considered because the quality of data available for the original baseline of 1990 published in its Food Industry Sustainability Strategy (FISS) and more recently in the Climate Change Bill (CCB) is so poor.
The targets included in the FISS strategy published in April last year set reductions on the sector of 20% by 2010. However, members of the champions groups set up last autumn to take FISS forward, when they reported back to food minister Lord Rooker in May, concluded that this target was “fairly meaningless” since the the baseline data for 1990 was inadequate, particularly in respect of carbon dioxide emissions from smaller manufacturers and catering outlets.
When former environment secretary David Miliband published the CCB earlier this year, prior to the FISS champions groups reporting back to Rooker, the targets announced still used the 1990 baseline and were for Britain to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to 26-32% of 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60% of those levels by 2050.
But a source from a major manufacturer, which was represented on several of the FISS champions groups, said: “We can’t possibly measure our performance if we don’t have reliable data on which to do it and the data that is available before 1999 is, as everybody knows, not reliable. I don’t think the decision has been taken that that is going to be the final baseline but it certainly makes sense in terms of making sure what you are committing to is a robust process.”
The source added: “Having the right baseline and making sure you are happy that what you are committed to from the outset has the right basis is an important starting point, otherwise the whole thing falls apart.”
>>See Food Manufacture August issue, p4