Professor Allan Buckwell (Letters, February 13) quotes the results of our report — “The Economics of the Food System Transformation” — to reach the “sad conclusion” that, even if the economic case for a food system transformation is clear, the costs are too high in an age of populist policies.

The Food System Economics Commission made these challenges central to its recommendations by being transparent on the distributional tensions around the food system transformation. In that spirit, and at variance with what was stated in Buckwell’s letter, the report notes that a rise in commodity prices by 30 per cent in 2050 would put pressure on food prices. But we expect the rise to be substantially smaller, though we cannot quantify by how much.

More importantly, in the face of the likely pressures on food prices and farmers’ often weak position in food supply chains noted by Professor Buckwell, the FSEC calls for pragmatic engagement with all food system stakeholders to identify solutions which are fair to those negatively affected, but remain true to the overwhelming scientific case for not delaying action.

As Pilita Clark reminded us in her excellent column “How to do climate policy in the age of the green backlash” (February 14), there is a large constituency for change. Underscoring the strong economic case for making food systems part of a sustainability transformation can help mobilise this silent majority and keep in check the populist tendencies which are so clearly trying to delay action.

Ottmar Edenhofer
Director Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Technical University Berlin, Germany

Ravi Kanbur
T.H. Lee Professor of World Affairs, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY US

Vera Songwe
Chair and Founder, The Liquidity and Sustainability Facility, Washington, DC, US

Johan Swinnen
Director-General, International Food Policy Research Institute,
Washington DC, US

Caterina Ruggeri Laderchi
Director, Food System Economics Commission, London SW14, UK

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