This week I’ve been thinking about the Eco Festival talks at The Space. Each talk – on how food, energy, nature and money affect (and are affected by) climate change – was interesting. But what really struck me was the connections between them.
We heard that our current food system is unsustainable. It denudes ecosystems, relies on energy intensive processes and is propped up by a financial system driven by profit.
This leads to our fossil fuel energy system being ‘locked in’ to unsustainable agricultural and food processing practices. The current high price for natural gas is an example. Factories can’t afford to make the nitrogen fertiliser that’s crucial for an industrial food system. The bi-product of fertiliser production is CO2 (a greenhouse gas!), which is critical in packaging and maintaining freshness in our too-long food chains. Without that, we’re seeing gaps on supermarket shelves.
Nature is damaged by our industrial food and carbon intensive energy systems, and our finance systems both prop them up and are reliant on them. But – as the speakers at the Eco Festival explained – it doesn’t have to be this way.
Regenerative agriculture works with nature, isn’t reliant on energy intensive nitrogen fertilisers and pesticides, and has short food chains which require less packaging to keep food fresh. Renewable energy doesn’t produce CO2 or pollutants dangerous to health, and can even be nature positive. Solar farms in fields can host wildflower meadows with teeming biodiversity. Schemes to increase biodiversity support food pollinators and give us clean air and water, which we all need to survive and thrive.
Banks can choose not to support ‘business as usual’ and instead follow the model of Triodos Bank, which only finances companies it believes add cultural value, and which benefit people and the environment.
This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – October 2021