Hilary Benn says that we should buy flowers imported from poor countries, even if we are concerned about the environment:
some recent research by Cranfield University – who compared the emissions from producing 12,000 rose stems in Kenya with those in Holland, including transporting them to Hampshire – and found that the emissions produced by Kenyan rose and flying them here can be less than a fifth of those grown in heated and lighted greenhouses in Holland. Why? Because Kenya is warm and sunny, and heating greenhouses in Holland uses enormous amounts of fossil fuels.
Furthermore, even if it were not better for the environment to buy African flowers rather than Dutch flowers, we should still consider buying flowers, fruit and vegetables from Africa:
people living in the vast majority of African countries are responsible for a tiny amount of carbon emissions. In Kenya, carbon emissions are 200 kg a head; here it is fifty times that. We should bear that in mind when making our choices.
This is social justice on a global scale. If we boycott their goods that are flown to the UK we deny our fellow human beings their chance to grow; their chance to reduce poverty. It’s like saying, we messed this planet up, but you can take the consequences.
So do the right thing on Valentines Day: buy flowers from Africa.