A new project outlines how organic and more sustainable farming practices can offer a means to save California, which is currently facing a climate crisis, with rising temperatures, frequent heat waves and wildfires. Years of drought have created limited water supplies and the disruption of normal ecosystems. California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) has released the second part of a research project that investigates how organic farming can represent a solution to some of the gravest issues facing California and the world today. The Roadmap to an Organic California: Policy Report posits that organic agriculture is a solution to the changing climate, economic insecurity and health inequities. By building healthy soils that store carbon and water, by creating jobs and reinvesting dollars into local economies, and by providing healthy food and protecting the environment, the Roadmap concludes that organic is critical to securing California’s future.
The Roadmap outlines tangible policy recommendations such as integrating organic into California’s climate strategy by building healthy soils, investing in water efficiency programmes to secure California’s water supply, investing more in organic research and technical assistance to build farm resilience, and conserving California’s dwindling farmland to maximise carbon capture.
The Roadmap also offers social recommendations, such as supporting organic farmers to comply with regulations and maintain viability, investing in farmworker housing, transportation and pathways to citizenship, integrating organic agriculture and business into economic development planning, and cultivating the next generation of organic farmers with access to capital, land tenure education, financial and legal services.
UK retailer Sainsbury’s has issued a pledge that its operations will become Net Zero in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, and a decade ahead of the UK Government’s own target. The project will focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging, water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating Sainsbury’s will work collaboratively with suppliers and will ask suppliers for their own carbon reduction commitments.
According to a press release issued by the retailer, its current carbon footprint is one million tons, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% over the same time frame. For the last six years Sainsbury’s has been awarded an A rating for taking action on Climate Change by the CDP, the highest rating of any UK supermarket.
Sainsbury’s will use the £1 billion investment to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating. The investment will enable the business to fulfil Scope one and Scope two emissions, putting the business on course for Net Zero a decade ahead of the UK government’s deadlines.
The retailer will work with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, publicly reporting on progress every six months. The targets will align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. Sainsbury’s will work with suppliers to set their own ambitious Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.
Mike Coupe, now former CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably. We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough. We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions – we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%. We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.”
At a meeting in Hamburg on 16 and 17 December 2019, the BIOFRUITNET project was officially launched. Focusing on organic pome, stone and citrus fruits, this project aims to strengthen the competitiveness of European organic fruit production by:
Collecting and synthesizing existing practical and scientific knowledge on organic fruit growing to distribute it widely among the EU countries through easy formats like e-learning, podcasts, videos and short articles.
Strengthening the established networks in organic fruit growing and establish links between them to create strong networks of organic fruit producers and stakeholders with a good flow of information.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No 862850. It is coordinated by the international farmers association Naturland and carried out in collaboration with 15 partner organisations representing 12 countries in total. They will work together during 3 years to provide information to the farmers in a practical way to tackle the challenges of pests and diseases in fruit crops. FiBL is one of the project partners.