Author Archives: Jim Elliott

Four important messages from the National Food Strategy about how we can ‘have it all’

Right now, the UK food system as a whole is bad for our health, bad for nature and the climate and, on top that, it is not even offering an economically sustainable livelihood for most farmers. The National Food Strategy, out today, sets out an integrated plan for how we can turn these problems around. Its insights on farming and land use are particularly exciting because they show how we can ‘have it all’: healthy food, as well as restored nature, carbon sinks and sustainable farm businesses.

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With or without a meat tax, a new vision for livestock farming is needed

Have you stopped eating meat for some meals or started a plant-based diet? If so, you are part of a growing trend. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of the forthcoming National Food Strategy included the suggestion that a meat tax might be needed in the future to help it along, to cut UK carbon emissions and improve people’s health. Meat taxes have been proposed before, and were rejected by the prime minister. But other developments are already driving changes in our diets. One way or another we will be eating less meat in future and a new vision for an economically and environmentally sustainable livestock sector is needed.

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Defra’s new farm payment scheme shouldn’t hold back private markets for nature

This post was originally published by Business Green.

The rapid decline of nature in the UK isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s undermining our economic prosperity, as the Treasury’s recent Dasgupta Review on the economics of biodiversity and research by Cambridge University and the RSPB have shown. And turning around this crisis will only be achieved by concerted, co-ordinated action from both the public and private sectors.

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What should the role of lab grown meat be in our future food system?

This post is by Jim Elliott, senior policy adviser and Tom Booker, policy assistant at Green Alliance

Lab grown meat and dairy, produced from a group of starter cells or from genetically modified microorganisms, rather than animals, is fast becoming a reality. Recent news revealed that a US company had won approval from Singapore’s food regulator to sell lab grown meat in the country. Meanwhile, a test restaurant has been set up in Israel, though it is waiting on the state regulator for approval to sell its lab grown chicken to the public. Media coverage has tended to focus on consumers, addressing questions like what lab grown meat tastes and feels like, whether people will want to eat it, or be able to afford it. But there are also big questions about what these technologies will mean for the food system, for farmers and for our environment. To find out more about this, we surveyed people working in NGOs, research organisations and farming groups to gauge their perceptions, and what opportunities and risks lab grown meat poses.

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Carbon offsetting is controversial, but unfortunately we need it

intext-blubell-forestAs an environmentalist, I’m not a big fan of offsetting. Not only does it probably lead to increased pollution, absolving us of responsibility for our emissions, but carbon credits have also been notoriously poor at actually delivering the carbon reductions they claim. I’ve not set foot on a plane since 2011 as I struggle to justify flying, even with a carbon offset. Read more

Why George Monbiot is both right and wrong about ‘cold and alienating’ language

peat bog smallThis post also appears on the National Trust’s blog.

George Monbiot today wrote an excellent twitter thread criticising the ‘cold and alienating’ language we routinely use when talking about ‘the environment’. He specifically calls out a term we have been using at Green Alliance for several years: ‘Natural Infrastructure Schemes’. Monbiot argues that phrases like ‘our shared home’, ‘climate chaos’ and ‘wildlife’ should replace ‘the environment’, ‘climate change’ and ‘biodiversity’. Read more

How carbon cutting could be a viable new income source for farmers and land managers

peat smallAs we hit the hottest winter temperatures ever in the UK, it‘s clear that the imperative to tackle climate change is becoming ever more urgent. We need to look at every aspect of how our economy is run to find new ways to cut carbon and attention is now turning to the role that land use and farming can play. Read more

The pivotal year ahead for UK water management

water squareMost of us probably only think about our water company when we pay the bill, when there’s a hosepipe ban or when we see news stories about how much water bosses are getting paid. Labour’s proposal to renationalise the water industry highlights some of these popular concerns. With all this noise it is easy to forget that the water industry is a hugely significant player in environmental protection. Whatever the future ownership of the water industry looks like, we urgently need to improve the state of our waterways, increasing resilience and restoring nature. Read more

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