Reducing the climate impact from food

November 16th, 2022

The university is trialling using carbon labelling on menus to calculate the climate impact of dishes whilst helping staff and students understand the carbon impact of their food choices.

The food industry accounts for 28% of global emissions, and around 8% of the university’s total carbon footprint.

Ultimately, across the world we need to reduce the climate impact from food to reach the UN’s climate goals, and to achieve this we need to make more conscious food choices.

The university has partnered with Klimato to climate label our menus, helping our staff and students to choose planet-friendly meals that both taste good and contribute to reducing the climate impact from food.

The climate labels display the carbon footprint of each meal in kg CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), which equals the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from that dish.

The carbon footprint is calculated based on ingredients, production method and country of origin using a method called Life Cycle Assessment.

The label also indicates whether the carbon footprint of each dish is equivalent to a low, medium or high climate impact.

In the UK today, an average lunch or dinner has a carbon footprint of roughly 1.6 kg CO2e. According to WWF, this number should not exceed 0.5 kg CO2e in order to reach the UN’s climate goals defined in the Paris Agreement.

This is why Klimato has defined a low climate impact meal as one with a carbon footprint of 0.5 kg CO2e or less. Choose a dish with a low climate impact label to eat within the planetary boundaries and help us reach the climate goals.

The new menus are now live in catered halls and in restaurants Portland Saijokai and Mama’s. If the trials are successful, it will then be introduced into other catered outlets.

What we eat has a huge impact on the environment and reducing meat and dairy is one of the most effective ways of making a positive difference.

But there are other foods that have a surprisingly large carbon footprint such as chocolate and coffee. Find out the impact of different foods with the BBC’s food calculator.

By including a small label on the menu to simplify planet friendly choices, we hope to inspire you to take climate action. Let’s fight climate change together – one meal at a time.

Read more about Klimato and how they calculate the carbon footprint of food at

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