The Paris agreement, adopted at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in 2015, is the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate change agreement. Among other things, governments agreed to a long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
According to a 2018 special report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), limiting global warming to 1.5°C as opposed to 2°C could have significant positive effects. It could reduce the number of people exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by up to several hundred million by 2050.
Unfortunately, according to the UN's Emissions Gap Report 2019, there is no sign of greenhouse gas emissions peaking any time soon. The result is that global warming could reach 4.1°C by the end of the century. And every year of postponed peaking means that deeper and faster cuts will be required.
The global food system accounts for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Energy accounts for the majority of the emissions, but farming, processing and distribution of food also have a significant climate footprint.
From how we power our buildings and factories to how we design our food packaging and processing solutions and how we transport and distribute food products, there are multiple opportunities to curb emissions.
If all actors in the packaging industry take responsibility and collaborate across the value chain, we could create a future of sustainable packaging. Shifting to renewable energy across operations would allow us to reduce our carbon footprint. Lightweight packaging and efficient designs would minimise wasted space during transportation and help reduce food producers' distribution and operational footprint.
By taking these steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the packaging industry could help limit global warming to 1.5°C. According to the IPCC, such a limit would have clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems.