COP26, Net Zero and Cooking Food

Over the last few weeks, COP26 and Net Zero have been the buzzwords. We’ve heard how our world needs rebalancing to protect the environment.

At COP26, world leaders and interest groups debated challenging issues affecting our planet and in particular decarbonisation.

In short, COP26 either had us in awe of this amazing world or in fear of what’s to come because of its fragility. Whichever category you fall in, just remember we’re all in it together and everyone can do their part one way or the other.

Saying that, like us, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the fact that while the talk is good, the remedies proposed seems removed from current daily lives. Moreover, if you love food, you’ll be left wondering how the food you consume affects what has been discussed.

So, if after hearing the debates, you’re still thinking “does my food consumption and love for cooking impact the planet? “ you’re not alone. In fact, that’s precisely why in this blog, we wanted to highlight common statements associated with COP26 and explore their relevance to food lovers.

Food and Cooking at COP26

Food tank image for COP26

A lot was said at COP26 relating to food and cooking. Interestingly, months before the conference, certain words, phrases and statements often came up in the media, to keep our focus on reducing carbon emissions. Below, we will look at a few of these:

“Food systems are emitting high levels of greenhouse gases”

The idea that food systems contribute to greenhouse gases is hardly surprising. Modern-day food systems are complicated. They involve the use of heavy machinery and equipment. Not only that, the supply chains that feed into the system can be inefficient leading to the emissions of carbon.

You might have heard about mass tree cutting in Brazil and so on but what about right here in the UK?

According to the food and drink federation, in the UK food manufacturing turned over around £104 and employs about 440 thousand employees (2018). Interestingly, 97% of the sector is run by SMEs. The sector represents one of the largest manufacturing inputs in the country.
By implication, the carbon footprint could be huge.

Food systems are notable contributors because greenhouse gases are emitted from when a seed is planted until consumption takes place. That journey presents a challenge to the environment due to the high amounts of carbon emissions involved. Equally, it has been noted that globally, food systems account for about 25% of greenhouse gas emissions.

So, how can a food lover address this challenge?

Well, one way of addressing this challenge is to grow your own or where possible, buy locally and cook more. To read more about growing your own and eating seasonally, click here for our blogs and podcasts.

We know there are no quick fixes – habits take a while to break. However, what may be possible is starting to understand your own personal carbon emissions and how to cut them down. The thing to remember here is that if we changed only one thing, that could make a huge difference.

“Cooking may lead to high emissions”

Cooking in many parts of the world is a high carbon emissions activity. Researchers at Loughborough University have been working on a 5-year project to help discover ways of clean cooking in developing countries.
It appears that cooking with electricity is one of the key ways of reducing carbon emissions but it depends on how electricity is sourced too!

Cooking with renewable energy sources is the best option and you can find out more about building kitchens from renewable resources here.

Local buyers club logo

Reducing food miles – is that possible?

In our so-called “global village”, it is difficult to imagine our lives without the eclectic menu we’ve all come to love.

However, one way of reducing food miles is to support local businesses and buy from them direct.

Shopping locally will tend to reduce our carbon footprints.

Everyone (businesses too) has a carbon footprint and that’s why Greenwich Pantry support buying and shopping locally when possible.

The road to Net Zero

Image of the road to net zero

The long road to Net Zero starts with understanding your carbon emissions.

So what are Greenwich Pantry’s carbon emissions?

In late August we made the pledge, along with other SMEs, to start thinking about the best way to reduce our carbon emissions.

A pledge is a start not the end!

A pledge is a start and as a responsible business our values, at Greenwich Pantry, lead us to believe respecting the environment is the right thing to do.

Whichever way you look at it, the environment we operate within deserves some respect.

Having said that, we also recognise that we can’t do it alone and continue to be supported by clients and trusted partners such as Heart of the City, Living Wage and the Good Business Charter to move forward.

COP26 may be over but no one will be surprised that the net Zero debate isn’t going away!

In the coming months, we hope to keep you updated on our net zero endeavours and share what we are doing as a small business to reduce our emissions.

Small business owners can make their own commitment to net zero here

If you’d like to know more about our responsible business policy, please email us at

Join the discussion and post your comments here.

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