Green MP Caroline Lucas has called on the House of Commons to make its catering services more sustainable to show it can lead the way in responding to the climate emergency.
Lucas has written to the House of Commons catering services to ask them to reverse the decision to drop out of the Soil Association’s Food for Life scheme, a set of standards that promote the use of locally-sourced and ethical ingredients and support the local economy and protect the environment.
The Commons catering services dropped out of the Food for Life scheme at the same time as Parliament declared a climate emergency, back in May 2019, which called for urgent action to be taken to ensure the UK achieves net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Lucas has also proposed that the catering services adopt the food sector recommendations of the Eating Better roadmap, launched at Westminster last summer, which sets out steps to cut meat and dairy consumption by half in the UK by 2030, with a focus on less and better animal products.
With increasing evidence pointing to the ecological damage caused by industrial-scale animal agriculture, Lucas proposed a tax on meat at last year’s Oxford Farming Conference in a bid to reduce the UK’s meat consumption.
The Eating Better Alliance aims to change eating habits so that UK agriculture (which accounts for nine per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions) can play its part in reaching net zero, while also improving people’s health, land use, animal welfare and social justice.
Lucas said: “At the very moment when Parliament declared a climate and nature emergency, the House of Commons catering services dropped out of the Soil Association’s Food for Life bronze scheme – which was such a disappointing step.
“The catering service has done a lot of good work on sustainable sourcing, but now is the time to ramp that up. The public sector can and should be leading the way on climate and nature-friendly diets – showing how consuming less-but-better meat and dairy supports British farmers and farming and would contribute proactively to an agro-ecological transition.”
Lucas pointed to the success of the campaign she led to reduce the impact of disposable coffee cups in the catering services. In late 2018 a 25 pence levy on disposable coffee cups in the Commons was introduced, resulting in a near 75 per cent drop in waste, despite a rise in sales. Lucas said: “The success of the levy shows that Parliament can lead the way in environmental sustainability. It’s now time to show the same leadership in the rest of the catering services.”