Healthy diet in UK at risk from Mediterranean droughts, experts say | Climate crisis

A nutritious diet within the UK will probably be put in danger by local weather breakdown as European droughts shrink recent fruit and vegetable provides, consultants have mentioned.

Recent produce from the Mediterranean, upon which the UK is reliant, will grow to be dearer and tougher to acquire as excessive warmth causes yields to cut back, placing a nutritious diet out of attain of the poorest in society, in keeping with a report by the Power and Local weather Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

Many meals imported from the Mediterranean can’t be grown within the UK for at the very least elements of the 12 months, or must be grown indoors, utilizing dearer and energy-intensive processes to guard them and warmth the rising area. Many can’t be grown within the UK at scale. The previous class contains cauliflowers, broccoli and strawberries. It additionally contains practically two-thirds of the cucumbers and tomatoes imported to the UK, and practically a fifth of the general provide of onions.

Moreover, greater than half of the UK’s lemons and candy peppers come from the Mediterranean, together with two-thirds of all oranges and 40% of desk grapes. Olive oil can also be affected by excessive temperatures; the UK will get 80% of its provides from the area. This 12 months, it has been one of many foodstuffs with the sharpest will increase in worth, including to inflation.

Based on the report, in 2022 simply over 1 / 4 of UK meals imports – 9.8bn kg, price simply over £16bn – got here from the Mediterranean area, largely recent fruit and greens. Spain, which is experiencing a number of the worst excessive warmth and drought, accounted for 7% of UK meals imports – price £4bn.

Gareth Redmond-King, the pinnacle of worldwide programme on the Power & Local weather intelligence Unit, mentioned: “As well as a climate crisis, we’re in a public health crisis too. Most of us already don’t eat enough fruit and veg, and often healthier diets already tend to cost more. As the impacts of climate change are likely to make the healthy food we should be eating more of even more expensive, it becomes even less accessible to the poorest in society.”

He added that many of those crops can’t be grown year-round within the UK on the ranges required to feed the inhabitants, so if Europe burns, the nation could have worsening shortages of recent fruit and greens.

“The heat we’ve seen in Europe this summer and in April would be all but impossible without climate change,” he mentioned. “These impacts will worsen as we continue to burn fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, leaving the UK facing an unpleasant reality in a future of more shortages and higher costs. This should be a wakeup call about the vulnerability of our food supply chains to climate change. We can’t simply grow our way out of the problem by producing many of these foods in the UK.

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“The only sure-fire way to avoid even worse and more dangerous impacts is to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C, and the only way to do that is to cut our emissions to net zero.”

Earlier ECIU evaluation discovered that the local weather disaster and fossil gasoline costs had added greater than £400 to family purchasing payments in 2022, rising the full annual UK meals purchasing invoice by about £11.4bn.

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