Assessing local authority policy interventions to reduce food-related GHG emissions

Project: Research council

Project Details


This ESRC postdoctoral fellowship aims to contribute to our knowledge of how local authorities can apply policies to reduce food-related carbon emissions. The fellowship encompasses five objectives which will advance our understanding in this area, as well as provide the skills, experience, and professional networks to help me develop my research career.

The first objective of this fellowship is to disseminate the key findings of my PhD research by publishing two papers in academic journals. My PhD focused on the adoption of online food hubs (also called 'online farmers' markets') and to what extent using them could reduce carbon emissions. Empirical data was collected through a collaboration with Open Food Network, an open-source direct marketing platform which operates in 20 countries. There are two key findings that I will present in these papers, and which inform the second objective of this fellowship. First, using an online food hub encourages people to eat a healthier, more seasonal diet and waste less food, irrespective of their motivation for joining the hub. Second, using food hubs reduces carbon emissions, within uncertainty ranges, through six mechanisms. I will publish these findings in two relevant high impact journals (Agriculture & Human Values; Journal of Cleaner Production) in order to share my research with academic audiences who focus on similar themes in their work.

The second objective is to run a series of stakeholder workshops that will consider innovative policy interventions for local authorities to reduce food emissions, as well as providing co-benefits such as improved dietary health. The first workshop will investigate how local authorities could prioritise environmentally responsible supply chains, such as online food hubs, for procurement for schools, hospitals, and public catering outlets. This supply-side intervention could be combined with consumer messaging or 'nudges' in public canteens to encourage healthy, low carbon food choices in situ. The second workshop will explore the potential of applying the social prescribing model to food to improve the dietary health of particular social groups. One key recommendation of the National Food Strategy (2021) was 'trial a Community Eatwell programme' targeted at individuals from low-income households who would benefit from access to fresh produce and food skills training. This workshop will consider how this would work in practice: which organisations should be involved, what resources are required, and how successful outcomes would be determined and measured. The third is a lateral-thinking workshop which will consider any other ways that local authorities could intervene in the food system or influence food behaviours to achieve policy goals. The workshop participants will decide which ideas to explore, but options include 'council-supported agriculture' (adapting the 'community-supported agriculture' model) or local business support using food identity (applying the 'terroir' concept).

The impact of these workshops will ultimately depend on the participation of multiple stakeholders who have the capacity and knowledge to bring about strategic change in public food provision and dietary health. Thus, a third objective of this fellowship is to build my professional network so that I can invite key stakeholders to be involved in these discussions. The knowledge production and networking outcomes of these workshops will form the basis for a future funding proposal, which is a fourth objective of the fellowship. A final objective is to develop my teaching experience to progress my career as an academic.
Effective start/end date1/10/2330/09/24


  • Economic and Social Research Council


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