Climate Database Facilitating Climate Smart Meal Planning for the Public Sector in Sweden

Britta Florén, Pegah Amani, Jennifer Davis


The climate impact of food consumption corresponds to about 2 tons of CO2
eq. per capita, representing around 25 % of the total consumption-driven climate change impact in Sweden. There are several diverse ongoing trends of food consumption in Sweden, and their primary drivers are environmental and health considerations. The results of a market research carried out by YouGov (2010) indicated that nearly 75 percent of respondents would buy climate-labeled food, and nearly 50 percent of the respondents would be willing to pay a higher price for such a product.
The climate impact from meals could be significantly decreased through small changes in recipes by reducing the amount of ingredients with high carbon footprints or substituting them with other ingredients with the same function but lower carbon footprints. By making more climate-conscious choices, e.g. eating more vegetables as well as poultry, egg and seafood instead of red meat, the climate impact per person and year could be reduced by half.
Several recent studies suggest that dietary changes can reduce food-related environmental impacts significantly (e.g. Tilman and Clark, 2014; Hallström et al., 2015; Stehfest, 2014; Röös et al., 2015; Bryngelsson et al., 2016). These studies have mainly explored theoretical dietary scenarios, and not what people actually eat; for example, in one study a model-based theoretical diet, which reduced GHGs by 90%, included unrealistic amounts of only seven food items (Macdiarmid, 2012). Still, this information is important when aiming to guide food producers, public authorities and consumers towards more sustainable and healthy options. The national food agency Sweden updated their dietary advice in 2015, which now also takes environmental consideration into account, besides health impact (SLV, 2015).
To combat climate change, recommendations need to be realized and incorporated into applications in daily practices. There has been an optimistic belief that the availability of information could boost environmentally sound behavior among the general public, but there is a rather weak link between knowing and doing. Feedback directly tied to people's own behavior has been shown to be more effective than general information (Lundgren, 2000), for example by making the information available directly in the decision making moment e.g. when shopping food or planning a meal. If such information is timely communicated, it can have considerable contribution to more sustainable consumption. In a field experiment conducted by Matsdotter et al. (2014) in 17 food stores in Sweden, the results show that climate labeling increased demand for climate-labeled milk by 7%. In another recent research project (Kamb et al, 2015), households in Uppsala were able to reduce their climate footprint by 31% by having access to climate friendly information and inspiration, e.g. the participants could get direct feedback on GHGs for certain products and services via a mobile application. This project was conducted at a very small scale, but still proves the potential of influencing behavioral change by using interactive applications at the point of decision making.

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ISSN 2194-511X


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