Matthew Henry John Bartlett

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Wednesday 06 June, 02007

by Matthew Bartlett @ 10:16 am

UK supermarket chain Tesco will start carbon labelling all its products
new Hoyt venture: – fund software projects collaboratively
David H is selling a 1992 Ford Laser

9 responses to “”

  1. Iggy says:

    very good – pleased they are taking into account the energy costs of production – not just transport – fertilizer is expensive…But most excitingly, the popular embargo on air freighted products means glorious tall ships are looking viable once more – Huzarr!

  2. Ben Hoyt says:

    Yep, “Hoyts 3” it is. Thanks for the buzz, Matt. Great description, too — “collaborative funding” is definitely the shortest phrase that captures the idea.

  3. Iggy says:

    p.s. further to pyrate-glory post: check out the beaut’ down at the waterfront today

  4. D says:

    Hurrah to Tesco. I think it’s complete and utter crap.

    I’ve been tracking this issue for a while.

    1) I notice with Britain’s national Soil Association there is an intention to withhold approval from airfreighted goods.

    2) Tesco have also announced that they plan to cut air-freighted produce from 2%-3% to less than 1%.

    3) This will almost certainly have the affect of causing substantial hardship in developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa where 70% of the poor work on agriculture, a significant amount of which goes to Britain (where Tesco is).

    3) Airfreight while it emits carbon dioxide emits only a very small amount. Research from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) estimates that if Britain was to boycott all fresh-produce air-freighted from Africa this would reduce Britain’s emissions by 0.1%.

    4) Tesco knows this. Quotation from a Tesco representative: “Transportation is only a very small part of the carbon emissions created by food production. We try to use food from local sources because our customers like it.”

    5) While carbon emissions by transport are obvious and intuitive, they are relatively small compared to carbon emissions due to other factors. An interesting comparison: a study by Lincoln University found that 2,849 kg of carbon dioxide is produced for every tonne of lamb raised in Britain, while just 688kg of the gas is released with imported New Zealand lamb, even after it has travelled the 11,000 miles to Britain. The figures are disputed but it is recognized that raising sheep in NZ is more efficient than in Britain.

    6) This is also true seasonally, in that storing apples in Britain past May means they have been in coolstore for six months at which point it is more economic (not to mention more tasty) to purchase apples from NZ.

    7) The number of times a piece of soil is ploughed and even the type of soil can apparently have a substantial effect on the amount of carbon dioxide emitted (not to include the use of fertilisers and pesticides and their corresponding carbon footprint). So can method of storage, transport and the carbon profile of the energy sources used in consuming the product (which can easily account for more than 40% of the energy associated with the product over its whole life).

    8) I postulate that the calculation of carbon for products is sufficiently complex that it will be simplified and that failure of attention to detail could result in significant injustices to farmers.

    9) Around one million people are employed in Africa in growing fresh produce for Britain. In Kenya alone, this presently generates around a hundred million pounds. In fact, fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables make up 65% of all exports from Kenya to the European Union (EU) according to the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK).

    10) If there is a problem with goods being transported, it is almost certainly the supermarkets which have caused it by creating an all-year-round desire for various products in consumers.

    10) Why would we applaud supermarkets for causing more injustices by solving a “problem” that they “created”?

    11) I think this is (at least partially) an example of social engineering, where people – and there seems to be a lot of them at the moment – who like the idea of localised communities with increasing interaction, the so-called “sustainable communities” are taking actions to ensure it happens. (If you don’t know what I mean, read more of the Orion magazine… ).

    13) The concept of “food-miles” is so narrowly focussed on carbon emissions that it will be, to me, a failure simply by virtue of not taking into account wider considerations (e.g. agricultural development critical for developing countries, alternative emissions for locally produced goods).

    In any case this is another example of how believing in anthropogenic climate change could result in significant harm to human livelihood.

  5. Iggy says:

    From what i have read and heard and attended – it seems as if ignoring the fact that climate change is anthropogenic, and failing to change ones actions accordingly will MOST CERTAINLY result in significant harm to human livelihood.

  6. Lynton says:

    Hey Iggy. I don’t think that is what D is arguing against per se. He argued that Tesco is merely making cosmetic changes that will do little to mitigate climate change and will only adversely affect the poor in Africa who rely on these exports for their livelihood. D clearly shows the complexity of the issue especially when you want to claim you doing something for a greater good of the planet.

  7. Iggy says:

    Cheers Lynton,

    I understand, and did very much appreciate D’s grasp of the topic – the matter certainly is complex, and poor choices will certainly impinge on human livelihood.. however i thought that D’s last paragraph was overly cynical, and highlighted a lack of openness.
    it is well and good to be wary of commercial social engineering and manipulation, but if it results in disbelief of everything then little positive change will ever be achieved. D is right to be cynical about the methods by which companies’ climate change policies are developed and advertised..but it is a shame to let that develop into distrust of the reality of climate change.

    Hurrah for D’s succinct and valid 13 points – but rot to the last.

  8. Matthew says:

    Thanks D – that’s a helpful article. One bizzare sentence though: “Roughly 80% of our foreign exchange earnings and 40% of our GDP rely in some way on our environment.” Where does the rest come from? It sounds trite but “only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.”

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