Dr Alan Knight, a commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission, told HW: "Horticulture is punching below weight among both government and the wider public. It can have a massive role in the change from a high-carbon to a low-carbon lifestyle."
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year, which will lay down future carbon-reduction targets when the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2013, will set targets for drastic reductions in carbon emissions of up to 80 per cent, he said.
"That will mean a fundamentally different society - one that will have to eat less meat, thus more fruit and vegetables, and that will appreciate the true cost of food."
He added that the rise of grow-your-own will benefit rather than threaten commercial horticulture. "They will value food more, and will have a different conversation with the supermarkets," he said. "And we need gardens to achieve a low-carbon society."
Knight was formerly Wyevale's sustainability director and currently works as a consultant on sustainability issues to several companies including The Body Shop and Virgin.