The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development

The DEFRA report The Validity of Food Miles as an Indicator of Sustainable Development argues that food miles are growing but that a simple measurement of food miles cannot accurately capture the complexities of the issues involved and proposes a 'suite' of indicators instead.

Headline statistics include the following:

  • Food transport produced 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2002, of which 10 million tonnes were emitted in the UK, representing 1.8% of the total annual UK CO2 emissions, and 8.7% of the total emissions of the UK road sector.
  • Transport of food by air is the fastest growing mode. Although air freight of food accounts for only 1% of food tonne kilometres and 0.1% of vehicle kilometres, it produces 11% of the food transport CO2 equivalent emissions (see figure E2).
  • CO2 emissions from food transport increased by 12% from 1992 to 2002.

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