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Klimato: The Startup Behind COP26’s Carbon Counting Menu

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Antonia Devereux introduces Klimato, the startup that helped hungry climate enthusiasts at COP26 make more informed food choices using carbon footprint labels.

Klimato’s Carbon Count. Image Credits: Klimato

How much do you know about the food that you eat? You can pick whatever you want to eat in the supermarket (as long as the panic buying has subsided!); consumers nowadays are literally spoiled for choice. No matter your diet, the relationship we have with our food today is often completely disconnected from its origin. How much water was needed to produce it? How far has it travelled? Realistically, most people aren’t asking these questions and we don’t know the true cost of food getting to our plates. But imagine if the food you ate came with a tag explaining its carbon footprint. Might you opt for a cleaner alternative? The team over at Klimato sure think so and they have done something about it.

Food systems were responsible for 34% of global GHG emissions in 2015, yet ways to reduce this impact are seldom discussed. In order to meet the Paris Agreement, WWF stated that each of us need to reduce our daily food ‘carbon budget’ by 8%, from 5.17 kg CO2e per person per day to 4.77 kg CO2e per person per day. To put this into context, a lovely portion of fish and chips has an average of 1 kg CO2e. Klimato, founded in 2017, hope to help restaurants provide customers with clarity over the environmental impact of the food they eat using a four step process. Businesses can work with Klimato to calculate individual emissions for their meals, communicate to their customers with clear labels on menus, track their impact over time as they shift to climate friendly choices, and finally help to offset unavoidable emissions through certified offsetting projects.

When Klimato made their debut at COP26 in November, informing conference goers of the carbon footprint of their meals, many eyebrows were raised. It shed light on the problems of today, and how the climate related issues within food production are often ignored. The Big Issue headlined their article ‘The COP26 menu is ‘like serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference’, with just less than 60 per cent of the dishes containing meat or dairy and attaining the label ‘high-carbon’. Without these labels, this fact may have been overlooked.

The Klimato team at COP26.  Image Credits: Anne-Sophie Gay, Klimato

Klimato could mark the start of a new food revolution, where local food with better tracing and communication for consumers helps support more informed decisions across the board. If consumers began opting for lower carbon dishes, businesses would find profit by tailoring their menus to suit this demand, promoting a cleaner, greener food future. Whatever happens, I’d much rather count carbon than calories…

For any reader interested in Klimato and wondering how they might get involved in this sector, it was introduced to me by an ex-wildling, Anne-Sophie Gay, who joined their team in October this year. While studying Environmental Communication and Food systems, Anne-Sophie applied for a position in the Sales and Marketing team and is now the Junior Business and Marketing Manager. After asking what she enjoyed about being a part of Klimato, Anne told me that “it is a great way to see environmental communication in action and how it can shape a deep inclusive and participatory sustainable change in the food industry”, also adding that being part of a startup is a great dynamic to work in.

About the author: Antonia Devereux is Wild Magazine’s Managing Editor, and is a 3rd year Environment, Economics and Ecology student, currently working as an Environmental Consultant in York.

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