Farming News - The time for green is now; ongoing sustainability action needs urgent government input

The time for green is now; ongoing sustainability action needs urgent government input

Rasmus Mortensen, Chief Vision Officer at Lyras comments


When the pandemic was first breaking, no politician could face the idea of immediate, mass deaths, so urgent measures were taken to protect the health of citizens. Lockdowns, mandatory coronavirus testing, and even more severe ecological decisions were made with quick execution to ensure health and safety. Whilst the success of these can be seen in how society has survived and thrived four years on from the height of the pandemic, it does beg the question from the more environmentally-focused minds – where is the urgent action and reform when it comes to the ongoing climate crisis?

For the climate crisis, it is apparent that a short-term but imminent threat would be needed to rapidly escalate a more decisive reform. But by the time a climate crisis consequence becomes visible, it will already be too late. On a global scale, it’s always someone else’s issue; it is only when consequences become local that urgent changes will often be made. It is therefore the responsibility of policy and decision-makers to start incentivising and implementing decisive change with a greater level of urgency before ultimately the climate crisis creates global damage beyond repair.


Enact support for businesses embracing sustainability, and penalise the alternative

Recently, the EU’s European Enterprise Network has begun issuing energy efficiency grants of up to 10,000 euros to SMBs with projects supporting energy optimisation. These initiatives must reduce the company’s overall energy consumption by more than 5% - in essence, a needed reward for businesses that are adopting sustainability agendas and creating a greener footprint for their operations.

This is a small step in the right direction. After all, a financial incentive is a great way to encourage greener action. Yet more can be done on a government level to support larger sustainability changes before it is too late. Rewarding businesses can be a way to incentivise sustainable-thinking businesses, but a firm hand laying down sanctions is even more effective in ensuring businesses get in line, particularly with those neglecting their sustainability initiatives. Governments hold a responsibility to ensure that businesses start to fall in line on the road to net zero, especially when the climate crisis threatens to cause damage in the years ahead if left unchecked at all.


Critique existing plans; are they crisis-ready?

The UK Committee for Climate Change (CCC) has already stated the UK government has no credible plan when it comes to combatting and standing resilient against the increasing effect of extreme weather and the climate crisis. When it comes to government policy, urgent necessary action and impetus aren’t there. Unless there is a financial motive or a benefit to the national economy, the currently implemented policy doesn’t appear to be interested in investing in meaningful change for the sake of the environment – to the detriment of future generations that will be forced to suffer its consequences.

Summits like COP28 spark the discussion for meaningful climate reform, and most recently it was the source of an agreement signalling the “beginning of the end” for the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, equitable transition underpinned by deep emissions cuts. Global demonstrations of the power of unity in government are great wins, but action to ensure there’s legitimate follow-through across both governments and businesses is also key – otherwise, it’s all talk and no substance.


Targeting the largest industry offenders is key

The food industry, and particularly the food processing sector, is a key target needing scrutiny when it comes to the conversation around industry environmental impacts. Looking at how their current processes operate, many food processing businesses still cling to outdated, traditional processes although technology has advanced for several decades. Optimising processes, especially by embracing electrification and sustainability, is no longer just an option but a necessity for the future.

It’s time for government and policymakers to lead the charge in tackling these mounting climate concerns with meaningful action. Sustainable reform is needed across dairy supply and processing lines. Businesses must be concerned about their climate impact and carbon footprint when making decisions about upgrades to operations, making the effort needed to cut back on their emissions now more than ever.

Cutting back is key on a business-by-business basis. Of course, business leaders are more conscious than ever about making their agendas greener and upgrading to more sustainable technologies across supply and processing lines often also makes them more future proof in the long run. But if governments can support businesses and dairy lines, even more, to help them meet sustainability initiatives on the road to net zero, we can see global change on a macro level as the combination of everyone doing their part.

Whilst urgent action would be the best-case scenario, ultimately it is more realistic to accept that net zero will be a long road – but the destination is worth the longer journey. All that is needed is for governments to steer businesses in the right direction where needed.