EU Going for Green

Illustrated by Luke Watson

Great news for anyone with an interest in sustainability and actually saving this planet. The European Commission is pumping €10 billion into its ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy. ‘Farm to Fork’ is a new initiative with the aim of taking the grey wastes of the agricultural industry and turning them green, in a bold move towards world-saving, plant-based living.

Back in December 2019, the European Commission presented their ‘European Green New Deal’, and their ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy is the latest in a line of proposed initiatives. Over the next 6 years, the EU will spend €100 billion on bringing a number of strategies like this one into fruition, all with one crucial and noble end game; carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050.

So, what exactly will the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy aim to do? As the name indicates, the idea is to ‘go green’ at all stages of the agricultural industry, so from the farms themselves, all the way to the fork in your hand. That includes the growing of crops, the harvest, and even the delivery and transportation of food to the supermarket shelves. That all sounds lovely, but the question is always going to be, how? To go into some specifics, the proposal highlights a planned move towards an increased focus on plant-based protein alternatives, for example, and on the use of renewable energy in the management and running of the farms. There is recognition of the ‘need for action’ and a number of strategic proposals are outlined, all around this powerful notion of ‘building the food chain that works for consumers, producers, the climate and the environment.’

Perhaps most crucially, the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy also recognises the need for research into new technologies, and to focus on the education of people at each of the links in this so called ‘food chain’. So that means facilitating the shift towards a ‘sustainable and healthy diet’ through teaching, in a bid to try and change attitudes. People’s capacity for change can be limited, that is no mystery. But the EU hope that through education they can shift opinions and ideas in the interests of, to put in bluntly, trying to save our dying planet.

This could come at no better time. The recession from the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pick up pace, and as Alexander Holst of non-profit organisation The Good Food Institute wisely stated, these new green measures by the EU present a ‘golden opportunity for Europe’ to ‘implement a truly green recovery.’ In many ways, we as a global society will have to start again in the wake of the COVID-19 disaster, so why not restart a little greener? It seems like a no brainer.

Compared to the $718 billion the US is spending on their military in 2020, or the £55 billion our own UK government has allocated to ‘defence’, ‘Farm to Fork’ initiative’s €10 billion is peanuts, yes, but at least it’s a start. It’s certainly another big step in the right direction for Europe and the EU, which for all intents and purposes, should be leading in green direction. It’s just a shame we here in the UK are no longer a part of it.

Sadly, there are currently no plans along the lines of ‘Farm to Fork’ on our own shores. Government priorities seem to lie ignorantly, shamefully and foolishly elsewhere. I guess this means that it really is down to us, the ordinary folk, to continue to try and do our best in order to combat the climate disaster. For now, let’s just keep doing those little things on a daily basis, and let’s do them even better, in order to try and be as green as we can. Eat a little less meat and dairy, recycle more efficiently, and limit those long drives. We’ve heard it all before, but now is the time to really push for these things. By doing so, and by keeping this dialogue alive, maybe we can be the ones to facilitate change. Maybe Boris and co will even start to listen, and like the EU, make some changes of their own before it’s too late.