Thanks to 57067 petition signers and our awesome team of alliance members, we now have a hearing set with the Bundestag on September 14th to present the case for making C02e food labels a law. We made this for anyone who might be interested in following along or offering advice or just taking a moment to consider why eating more climate friendly is a super cool thing to do.
Never been to a hearing? Same here… Anyway, it all kicks off with Tobi’s speech presenting our case to a room full of over-worked, highly stressed politicians who are probably just wondering how a dorky oat drink company got on their schedule in the first place. Yeah, no pressure. Read the speech below, any advice?
In the face of an existential climate threat, it should be clear to everyone here, that we are not doing enough.
As a nation, we set a goal in 2030 to reduce emissions by 55% of 1990s levels, however fulfilling that ambition will require more than what our current Klimapaket can deliver… Much more.
Today, as we look to activate every corner of society in the battle against climate change, we believe it’s time to focus attention on an enormous opportunity the Klimapaket has all but ignored — the food industry.
Most people are unaware that the food industry is responsible for 25% of ALL global emissions. That’s more CO2 than all the world’s trains, planes, automobiles and ships — combined, yes combined.
Clearly, our food choices — the food choices of 83 million Germans — can have a profound effect on our nation’s climate footprint.
But how can we eat more climate friendly — if we don’t know how?
We are here on behalf of 57.067 petition signers and countless others around the world who want to know the carbon cost of their foods… Who want to make informed choices in the supermarket… And who want to turn every food purchase into a win for the planet.
We know from multiple studies that changing your diet is the single most impactful action a person can take to reduce their climate footprint… Even changing the type of meat consumed can have a huge effect.
If German consumers switched just one meal of beef per week, to chicken, approximately 2.1 million tons of emissions could be saved annually - the equivalent of taking 95,000 new cars off the road…
Make the switch from beef to a vegan protein option and those savings rise to almost 5 million tons of emissions saved.
And just think how a shift in demand towards more climate friendly foods might exert pressure on the entire sector to offer lower-carbon options and reduce their climate footprint.
We believe that level of consumer empowerment should be a law, if not a human right…
After all, we mandate nutritional labels to safeguard our health, shouldn’t we do the same for the health of our planet?
To be clear, we are not here to blame the food industry or lead companies down a difficult or costly path.
On the contrary, we are on well-travelled grounds… Product Life Cycle Assessment tools exist… Best practices can be standardised… Climate declarations can work…
In fact, there are hundreds of companies already, like Frosta in Germany, Walkers Crisps in the UK and Oatly in Sweden who are reaping the benefits of climate transparency not just in emissions and customer satisfaction, but also in operational efficiency and frequently, their bottom line.
So far from being impossible, we see this is an opportunity to future proof the German food industry by empowering consumers, driving innovation in business and tackling climate change.
Let’s set an example the world can follow by making carbon declarations mandatory on food products in Germany.
If one thing is clear from the support we received during the petition — we are not alone. So we started this alliance to help unite progressive companies and organisations interested in advancing climate-friendly eating. Maybe you work for or know a company that might want to join Frosta, Veganz, fritz kola, Mymuesli, Freche Freunde, Rügenwalder and others in a mission to future proof the German food industry? If so, just let them know by downloading and sending this invite.
ALLIANCE FOR CO2E TRANSPARENCY IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY
Back in November of last year, 57,067 citizens signed our petition for mandatory CO2e declarations on food products, thus, securing a debate on the issue and a public hearing before the Petition Committee of the German Bundestag, now scheduled for September 14, 2020.
Our appeal for greater measurement, improvement and declaration of the carbon footprint of food products to potentially save significant amounts of greenhouse gas emissions has not only struck a chord with climate-conscious consumers looking to make more informed food choices, but also amongst companies, retailers and organizations championing increased transparency in the food industry. This initiative was created to unite our common interest and build a platform for gathering perspectives and raising awareness for climate-friendly food.
WHY JOIN THE ALLIANCE?
By giving your official support for the public hearing we can show politicians that it is not just a single company who sees the potential in mandatory climate declarations, but a community of major players within the industry. In the future we’d also like to activate this forward-thinking group to share best practices and ideas to help future proof the German food industry by implementing climate transparent action in manageable and efficient ways. And most of all, it’s pretty cool to say you’re part of an alliance. Interested?
Please get in touch via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW DID WE CALCULATE THE CLIMATE IMPACT OF OUR PRODUCTS?
First off, we didn’t do the calculations ourselves, they’ve actually been done by a company called CarbonCloud. This is important to emphasize. CarbonCloud's model is based on twenty years of research and has been reviewed in connection with a wide range of scientific publications. It has been used by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and is also the basis for international cooperation, for example with Princeton University and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Okay, now to the “how” part. So CarbonCloud’s calculations are based on an analysis of the various steps in the product's “life" — in our case, from farm to shop. In this kind of life cycle analysis, you not only see how much greenhouse gases the product generates in total, it also becomes clear which steps generate the most emissions — and quite often, the biggest offenders may not be what you’d expect.
If you take a closer look at each of the steps, you’ll see, for example, that the greatest impact in the production of a food is neither the transport nor the packaging, but it is almost always in the "farm step” — during the creation of the raw material itself. Below, you can see how much CO2e is generated in each step of production of our oat drink as compared to cow's milk.
Today, animal-based products account for more than half (60%) of global food emissions, but supply only 18% of calories.* Clearly, that is a waste of resources, and one reason why virtually all researchers agree that we humans have to eat more plant-based if we want to cope with the climate challenges we’re facing.
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN THE OAT DRINK CALCULATIONS?
Farm: Emissions related to the production of oats and rapeseed (which together with water adds up to more than 99% by weight of oat drink). Among other things, this includes N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions from soils and CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from the production and use of fuels/electricity for tractors and other machines. And emissions linked to fertilizers are also included.
Factory: Heating and electricity consumption in the mills and in the manufacture of oat base, rapeseed oil and oat drink. The figures are low thanks to a large percentage of renewable energy sources.
Packaging: Emissions related to the manufacture and transport of packaging materials and packaging.
Transport: Transport of oats and rapeseed from field to mill and factory (for the production of rapeseed oil), and then on to the factory for production of oat base. Transport of oat base to the oat drink production sites. Transport of finished oat drink to different markets. The calculations take into account that certain transports are cooled.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED — AND WHY?
Well, you have to draw the line somewhere. The production of equipment/machines and buildings is not included in the calculations, nor are our employees' transport to and from their job or overall business activities such as research, product development, sales and marketing. The reason for this is that these greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be very small in relation to the total emissions and basically negligible.
WHAT ABOUT THE PRODUCT’S LIFE AFTER THE SHOP?
The calculations include the steps from farm to shop. But we hear you. “Hey, this doesn’t cover the whole life of the product!” True, but what happens to the product after the shop step is difficult to figure out because we don’t know, for example, how and how far it is transported by the consumer, or if and how the packaging is recycled. So, when it comes to the climate impact of the product's after-shop life, you can make a difference yourself! (Is this piece of pushy copy ever going to end?)
OKAY, SO NOW WE CAN SIT BACK AND RELAX?
No. Absolutely not. Because while our products are more climate-friendly than many alternatives, we want them to be even better. In fact, it’s exactly what we’re working on every day! So if you have some free time and want to become an expert about how we work (and the current status of it all), we have a sustainability report that’s just hanging around on the other end of our website, just waiting for you to read it. Just click here and enjoy!
*Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers: J. Poore1 and T. Nemecek (2018)
Nothing worth doing is ever easy, right? And as much as we hope our proposal for mandatory climate labels is received with confetti and popcorn, we’ve been spending a lot of time prepping for a Q & A session from hell… Did we miss anything?
According to a recent study, climate impact declarations on food packaging are one of the most effective ways to help consumers make climate-friendly purchasing decisions.* Additionally, a recent representative survey conducted in Germany showed that consumers believe in the positive impact a CO2e declaration could have on their buying behavior and subsequently our planet.**
If you look at how energy efficiency labels (A+++ etc.) on white goods positively influenced consumer purchase behavior and motivated manufacturers to increase their product’s energy efficiency, it’s not hard to imagine how climate labels could have a similarly positive effect on consumption and production of climate-friendly foods.
* Camilleri A R, Larrick R P, Hossain S and Patino-Echeverri D 2019 Consumers underestimate the emissions associated
with foodbut are aided by labelsNat. Clim. Change 9 53–8
** Kantar Group: EMNID Studie, 2.021 Befragte, CO2-Fußabdruck, 18. Juni 2020.
voluntary declarations will not contribute to making the industry more transparent nor help to accelerate the needed change towards a more sustainable food industry. We would like to see a ‘race to the bottom’ with these declarations, where food producers compare their climate impact to their competitors’ and are motivated to reduce their own CO2e footprint.
and publishing their climate impact. Including FRoSTA who make complex frozen food products like their “Tagliatelle Wild Salmon.” So no matter what you produce, it’s possible to calculate. And just recently, Unilever announced they would start declaring the CO2e footprint across a wide range of
their products worldwide.
It can be difficult to collect all the information needed to calculate climate impact, especially when you do it for the first time, but it is possible, and it gives companies a chance to get to know their own operations and supply chains better and identify areas for improvement.
present methods for climate compensation are good enough or proven to achieve our goals.
But above all, it is far more crucial that we remain vigilant now in reducing greenhouse gas emissions first, than become complacent with compensation schemes.
The administrative cost for the government and food companies to implement this law are presently unknown but we would argue that the cost of not doing anything are much, much higher. It is estimated by the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung that if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced to keep warming below 2°C the cost for Germany from damage caused by natural disasters could amount to 137 billion Euros.*