Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Inverness Climate March - Food and Climate Change

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Sunday 29th November saw nearly 200 people take to the streets of Inverness to call for action on climate change.  This was part of a world wide day of action.  Campaigners gathered at Velocity cafe, who have been leading the way in promoting cycling in the area, and proceeded to walk along the High Street and the riverside to a new community garden site in South Kessock where some fruit trees and bushes were planted.  The local march was organised by several local groups such as HIGP, Transistion Black Isle and Merkinch Allotment society.


Our candidate Isla O’Reilly had the following to say about Food and Climate Change.

“Tackling climate change is no longer about simply recycling, fitting new energy saving bulbs or turning the tap off when brushing your teeth.  We need urgent and meaningful action from our governments.  That’s what today is about.

Climate change is already affecting our global food supply.  This makes it very real to peoples everyday lives.  We are finding crop yield increases slowing, fish catches falling and rising food prices due to instability.

Tim Gore from Oxfam says  “The main way that most people will experience climate change is through the impact on food, the food they eat, the price they pay for it, and the availability and choice that they have.”

So our food is part of the symptoms but is also a massive part of the problem.

About one third of greenhouse gas emissions come from the food and drink sector. Growing crops and rearing livestock have the biggest impact of all parts of the food system.  The main drivers are:   Deforestation to make more pasture land, increasing use of fertilizers and the animals themselves release methane and nitrous oxide.

A quote from the New Scientist.  “A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.”

Producing and processing food takes a lot of energy and then often it is transported around the world with all the energy and emissions that creates.  The changes in our diet have also led to increased refrigeration needs.

It’s clear that if we are at all serious about tackling climate change then we need to make some serious changes to our food systems.  These can be personal changes as well as ones that we demand from our governments.

I took the following list from a Friends of the Earth report written 8 years ago which is still relevant today.

Consumers can:

  • Buy better quality meat – organic, locally produced, free range and from your local butcher.
  • Buy organically produced dairy products.
  • Check where your food has come from – the further away, the less likely you are to be able to verify how it is produced.
  • Shop local! Local shops tend to be within walking distance, reducing car travel and helps local food producers survive.
  • Seek out seasonal produce.
  • Watch out for processed food such as ready meals, sauces etc. Buy fresh produce as much as possible.
  • Try and buy foods with less packaging.
  • Try and reduce food wastage – if you’re not going to be able to eat a whole bag of apples, just buy a few.
  • Change the balance of what you eat. Generally, eating lower down in the food chain has less climate impacts i.e. more cereals and vegetables and less meat and dairy.
  • Accept more variability in the appearance of your food. Imperfectly round tomatoes can still taste perfect!

Food is something we obviously cannot live without but we need to take immediate action to reduce the climate impact of the food we eat.”