Changing diets to tackle climate change - what’s the role of government?

A large, robust and ever growing body of evidence concludes that if we are to achieve our net zero climate commitments and address our many SDG goals – from zero hunger, to good health and wellbeing, to responsible consumption and production – then diets will need to change. For rich countries which bear historical responsibility for the climate problem, in addition to balanced calorie intake and greater dietary diversification, citizens will on average need to consume fewer animal products (meat, egg, and dairy) and more plant based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains. But while the advantages for climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing of achieving such a change are potentially enormous, the obstacles are immense. They include, among other things, corporate investment in the unsustainable status quo, the entrenched nature and cultural importance of existing dietary patterns, and the need to ensure that the transition process overcomes, rather than exacerbates, existing social inequalities. Perhaps most important of all, the complexity of our global food system means the ability to effect change is always seen to lie with someone else. The facts that any one action is always going to be insufficient in and of itself (and may backfire) and that real change requires action by many different actors, can serve as an excuse for doing nothing. And yet if no one does anything, nothing will change.

In this webinar, organised by TABLE, we take a look at the role of one particular actor in the food system – Government – and ask what role Government can and should play in shifting diets in more sustainable, healthy and equitable directions. What are the essential ingredients of the policy-making puzzle? What are the obstacles against government action (ranging from corporate relocation, to voter hostility to moral objections to the state intervening in private affairs) and what might the counter arguments be? More information here: