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The Green Dilemma

The UN has warned that CO2 emissions will continue to rise catastrophically in the next decade but ironically, we face possible food shortages because companies are unable to provide enough CO2 into the supply chain.

Normally the words carbon dioxide is thought of in a negative way but it is a valuable resource in everyday life products such as fizzy drinks, increasing the life of shelf meat and even more importantly used in surgical procedures.

In the UK, 60% of our carbon dioxide comes from two manufacturers. Due to the rise in gas prices, it has caused those manufacturer's plants to shut down. This has had a great snowball effect on the meat industry as medical uses are being prioritised.

Supplies of carbon dioxide are running at an all-time low with the risk of it completely running out. Although the CO2 in our atmosphere continues to warm the planet.

So, what is the green dilemma?

The contradiction of the situation is an interesting one. Creating new sources of CO2 is more cost effective than trying to remove it from the atmosphere but the problem lies in the type of carbon dioxide. The CO2 needed for food- grade uses needs to be almost 100% pure. The CO2 in our atmosphere is 420 parts per million, making it unusable for the food industry. Trying to purify the CO2 from the atmosphere is roughly four times more expensive than creating it from a fertiliser.

Major economies, including the UK, are now funding research and development projects into creating new technology to address this. However, the reduction of pure CO2 resources is likely to increase if organisations and businesses do not diversify sources.

Recent events have shown the need to de-fossilise rather than decarbonise. With the only equitable way to do this being through direct air capture. With the right incentives and carbon pricing, it could be cost competitive with other sources of CO2 within 10 years. However, right now, the solution only works for companies that can afford to have a strategic long-term perspective.

To continue the conversation about Future Food Systems, check out our Climate Week NYC discussion with the Climate Group, the Sustainable Restaurant Association, the British Dietetic Association and the Royal Meteorological Society.

Original source: The Telegraph


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