Air freight food, flowers 'may be greener'
London, September 16, 2007
Flying certain foods around the world may be less environmentally harmful than buying locally, a report said.
Concerns are growing that a corporate dash to be seen to be doing something about climate change is causing more harm than good.
"We're seeing a lot of knee jerk responses," said Terry Leahy, Chief Executive of the world's third biggest retailer Tesco, announcing new research funding.
Tesco will fund 25 million pounds ($50.89 million) over five years for a new "Sustainable Consumption Institute" (SCI) at the University of Manchester.
"We can pose these questions to the SCI."
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has dimissed as too simplistic some western consumer calls not to buy certain air freighted food products.
Blamed for global warming, carbon dioxide is the commonest greenhouse gas and is a by product of burning fossil fuels, and the air freight issue hinges on whether energy-intensive farming in rich nations cancels out the greenhouse gas emissions of flying products from Africa instead. "It may be that farming from further afield is actually environmentally better, we'll have to wait and see the numbers," said Leahy.
Tesco said in January that it planned to tell its customers about the greenhouse gas emissions of all its products through carbon labelling.
It "will take years" to achieve that across its whole range, Leahy said on Wednesday, while adding that some carbon labels would appear in early 2008.
Other unwanted trade-offs in the response to climate change have emerged from the use of biofuels, derived from plants as a transport fuel to replace gasoline and diesel.
In Britain, Tesco's fleet of lorries runs on fuel which comprises 50 percent biodiesel, while it sells a 5 percent biofuel blend to its customers.
But in a report called "Biofuels: is the cure worse than the disease?", the Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD) said that biofuels could cause worse problems than the fossil fuels they replace.
Those problems included raising food prices by using land and crops formerly used to produce food, and increased pollution where biofuels were derived from formerly forested land cleared by slash and burn.
Tesco hopes to cash in on rising "green" awarness among consumers, using its economies of scale and marketing might. "We've got to get a way to use mass marketing techniques in green consumption because people can't pay more," said Leahy.
The Tesco grant would fund one professor, five academics, some 20 PhD researchers and up to 30 PhD students, and the research findings would be made freely available. - Reuters
More Miscellaneous Stories
- Dubai chamber F&B group sets roadmap for 2014
- Feminisation drive costs $213m to Saudi firms
- US interiors firm opens MEA base in Dubai
- Saudi 'spends $1.6bn on energy drinks'
- Farmer is jailed for raping housemaid in Bahrain
- Bahraini mother recounts firebombs agony
- Guard foils masked ATM robbers in Bahrain
- Bahraini on Arab world's 'most powerful women' list
- Latest kitchen technology at Sharjah event
- Number of HNWIs in Africa to double by 2023
- World boxing legend to visit Bahrain
- UAE road accidents decline by 23.5pc
- Top businesswomen in Bahrain honoured
- Death penalty sought for Bahrain terrorists
- Girl, 9, dies after fall from 8th floor in Abu Dhabi
- Lebanese café brand opens Dubai outlet
- Bahrain poultry firm told to step up safety
- Customer dies in Bahrain cafe brawl
- Bahraini boys hurt while planting bombs
- Philips, Ericsson launch LED street lighting
- DuBiotech to set up first Halal safety lab
- Jotun to supply coatings for Makkah Station
- Raytheon wins $655m Kuwait Patriot deal
- Alwaleed Foundation lights up 3 Saudi villages
- Poultry farms strike may trigger shortages in Bahrain
- Oman seals Victoria food security pact
- Saudi woman, 80, donates $133m to charity
- New Saudi clamp on energy drinks
- Outrage follows Bahrain killer bomb
- Improvised explosive device used in Bahrain attack