Assessing pre-pandemic carbon footprint of diet transitions in UK nations and regions
Food supply chains hold significant embodied carbon emissions that need to be mitigated and neutralized. This study aimed to explore the historical Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions associated with household food consumption at a local scale i.e. across the eight English regions and the four nations that comprise the United Kingdom (UK). UK EatWell guidelines were used to explore the potential change in emissions and food costs in a scenario of transitions to healthier diets across the study areas. These emissions were calculated based on food consumption data before the advent of the Covid-pandemic i.e. between the years 2001 and 2018. Spatial data analysis was used to explore if the study areas had any significant correlations with respect to the emissions during the study period. The results displayed a potential reduction in GHG emissions for all study areas in the explored scenario. Further impacts include a reduction in household food costs across a majority of the areas during the study period. However, a consistent trend of significant correlations among the study areas was absent. This study concludes that local or regional policymaking should take precedence over national regulations to achieve healthier diets that are both carbon-neutral and affordable for the households.