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Carbon Neutrality in agri-food: Lce launches Executive Program with Eiis

Interview with Assunta Filareto, Life Cycle Engineering sustainability manager

With the launch of the Green Deal, the strategic plan to make Europe climate neutral by 2050, the issue of carbon neutrality has entered by force in all the working agendas of governments and in the perspectives of sustainable development in all sectors, obviously including agri-food, which is called to new challenges and consequent new opportunities. A new Executive Program organized by LCE - Life Cycle Engineering, together with the European Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (https://eiis.it/carbon-neutrality-executive/) is dedicated to Carbon Neutrality.

To explore the challenges and opportunities ahead for companies in the agri-food sector, EFA News interviewed Assunta Filareto, sustainability manager of the sustainability consultancy firm Life Cycle Engineering .

Help us to contextualize. What is the Green Deal and what influences will have on the agri-food sector?

The Green Deal is a growth strategy that Europe intends to implement to reduce and contain climate change, thus fulfilling the international commitments made in the Paris Agreement. The ultimate goal is to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To do this, it is necessary to initiate a profound transformation that will involve all sectors: the energy sector above all, but also the industrial world, transport and, of course, the agri-food sector. Circular economy, reduction of emissions, renewable energy and biodiversity will be some of the key themes of the European political agenda in the medium term.

The food system plays a fundamental role in the Green Deal, so much so that the measures relating to this sector have been grouped in the “From Farm to Fork” strategy. This approach - which extends to the entire supply chain from producer to consumer - touches on various issues: increasing the sustainability of food production (in particular thanks to the reduction of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and the protection of biodiversity), reducing food waste, reduce food fraud and encourage more informed and sustainable consumption.

What kind of repercussions will be for companies in the agri-food sector?

I would not speak so much of "repercussions" as of opportunities. Today a company that wants to be sustainable must adopt the right "pre-employment", understood in the etymological sense of the term: that is, prepare to seize the opportunities deriving from changes in the economic and social context. Whoever moves first, becoming a reference model within their sector, obtains a competitive advantage.

And on what issues should companies that want to "worry about" sustainability invest?

Talking about sustainability in the agri-food sector is complicated because it means putting together often irreconcilable factors: environmental impacts, food waste, protection of the territory, animal welfare, ethical values. In short, the gray areas are many and sometimes it is not possible to find a solution that satisfies all consumers. But wanting to restrict the field to the issues that can represent a critical success factor, I would certainly speak of carbon neutrality and, more generally, of interventions to reduce more and more the emissions of the entire production chain. Furthermore, it will be increasingly important to effectively communicate sustainability and corporate values to consumers, using a transparent and engaging approach.

Can you explain in a few words what carbon neutrality is?

With the term "carbon neutrality", or climate neutrality, we mean the cancellation of the carbon footprint of a company, product or service. This is obtained by subtracting from the atmosphere an amount of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) equal to that which is generated to produce the product or activity under examination. To reach “carbon neutrality” it is necessary to set up a path that includes three necessary steps. It starts with measuring the greenhouse gas emissions generated throughout the life cycle of the product (or company or service). Then a strategy to reduce emissions is drawn up, acting on the processes managed directly and establishing supply chain collaborations. At this juncture it is important to set ambitious, specific and achievable goals. The “residual” emissions, those that cannot be eliminated, are then compensated by investing in projects that make it possible to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. An easy way to do this is to purchase certificates attesting the generation of CO 2 credits from projects that have a positive impact on the planet, such as forest planting or renewable energy production.

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EFA News - European Food Agency
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