60 scientists, business experts, and campaigners have signed an open letter calling on the UK government to invest £1 billion in alternative proteins between now and 2030.
According to the letter, shifting to sustainable proteins could reduce the climate impact of meat by up to 92%. Meanwhile, a fully deployed sustainable proteins sector could bring $1.1 trillion in gross value and create up to 9.8 million jobs worldwide by 2050.
“[Alt proteins are] the best investment, dollar for dollar, for reducing carbon emissions”
The signatories also note that alternative proteins provide resilience to the shocks affecting food supply chains, which could improve food security. They point out that countries such as Singapore and the US are pioneering the commercialisation of cultivated and fermented proteins, while the UK risks being left behind.
Though £1 billion is a significant investment, it represents less than 5% of the £22 billion committed under the UK Infrastructure Bank’s plan to tackle the climate crisis. The letter argues that alternative proteins must be taken as seriously as other climate technologies like renewable energy, suggesting that the investment could be combined with measures like regulatory, tax, and labelling refinements to bring about a “food revolution”.
The letter comes less than a week after it was reported that the UK government was looking to accelerate the regulatory approval of cultivated meat to boost food security and sustainability. This followed the publication of a report by Deloitte in June, which advised that novel food regulations should be reformed to allow sustainable proteins to come to market more quickly.
In August, an analysis by environmental group Green Alliance claimed that the UK alt protein industry has the potential to be worth over £6.8 billion per year and create 25,000 jobs by 2035.
The signatories of the new open letter include author George Monbiot, broadcaster Chris Packham, four Nobel Laureates, and the founders of sustainable companies such as Ecotricity and allplants, among others.
“Investing in alternative protein sources like precision fermentation, plant-based and cultivated meat is a no-brainer. It creates highly skilled jobs, new opportunities for farmers and is the best investment, dollar for dollar, for reducing carbon emissions,” said Karolina Lisslö Gylfe, secretary general of the NGO Replanet.