RIP fish and chips? Climate change threatens to wipe out some of the UK’s favourite dishes
British staples such as fish and chips and chicken tikka masala could be under threat due to climate change, new research suggests.
In a report published by the WWF ahead of its Earth Hour campaign this weekend, experts examined how changing weather and temperature rhythms could impact the types of food we eat by 2050.
The results aren’t great for many of Britain’s best-loved dishes, with key ingredients harder to come by due to altered farming patterns. A rise in sea temperatures, for example, could see the cod in fish and chips replaced with substitutes, leading to the possibility of “anchovies and chips”, the WWF claims. A similar finding from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) in 2016 found that warmer temperature may give way to squid and chips.
Changes in rainfall and growing pressures for land space, the WWF’s report adds, could ripple down to chicken feed being switched to algae. Drought conditions will also impact the price of tomatoes, rice and onions, meaning that chicken tikka masala may become an expensive treat.
Even the humble cheese ploughman’s isn’t safe from disruption, with cheese production likely to be hit by increased heat stress on dairy herds. For similar reasons, Welsh favourite lamb cawl could be at risk from extreme weather undermining the viability of Welsh sheep farms.
Earth Hour begins at 8.30pm on Saturday 24 March, and WWF is using its high-profile campaign to urge people to eat more sustainably. “The threat to these classic dishes just shows that climate change could impact every aspect of our lives in future if we don’t act now,” said Gareth Redmond-King, head of energy and climate at WWF.
“That’s why this Earth Hour we want people to eat more sustainably. That doesn’t necessarily mean going vegan or vegetarian – it means each of us cutting back on the amount of fish, meat and dairy we eat. If each of us takes a small action, together we can combat climate change and future-proof our best-loved dishes.”
The WWF is asking people to make a promise for the planet on its website ahead of Earth Hour, which can include refusing plastic cutlery, using a reusable coffee cup, or getting an electric vehicle. A number of prominent companies, including Lego and PG Tips, have taken steps in recent months to cut back on plastic in their products, following mounting environmental concerns about the scale of plastic pollution. Last year a Guardian investigation found that annual consumption of plastic bottles is set to top half a trillion by 2021, leading to a crisis that some argue is as serious as climate change.