Concerns about global food shortages should not take away from efforts to meet long-term climate change targets, a senior UK government minister has said.
Speaking at Westminster on Monday, Environment Secretary George Eustice acknowledged that food security has moved up the agenda since last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“There is an immediate focus on what do we do with the grain that is difficult to get out of Ukraine at the moment, and what the impacts of that could be,” he said.
“I think in the long run, people are quite capable of differentiating between a short-term shock to the global supply of certain commodities, from some of those longer term [environmental] objectives that we all remain true to,” Eustice said.
However, the Conservative MP admitted that the current international system used for measuring greenhouse gases within each country is flawed because emissions associated with imports are not included.
“If all you are doing is reducing certain industries here, only to offshore pollution to another country, then you are not actually helping the planet,” he said.
Eustice said government officials are currently looking at a new system where emissions are based on the goods and services that are consumed within a region, rather than just what is produced within a country’s borders.
“The idea that you might move to something like a consumption measure over the longer term makes sense,” he said.