Following the United Nations' most recent call to action, a petition with more than 53,000 signatures has been submitted to leading world governments, urging them to cut meat and dairy products to take meaningful climate action.

Organized by Compassion in World Farming, the petition was delivered to the leaders of Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Canada, China, the EU, Japan, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States on May 5. The petition aims to bring attention to the urgent dangers presented by the entire animal agriculture sector.

“Our global leaders cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand,” Senior Campaigns Manager at CIWF Sarah Moyes said. “Livestock emissions play a significant role in the current climate emergency, yet this has been virtually overlooked by world leaders. We must drastically reduce our total global meat and dairy consumption, so we’ve addressed our petition to leaders of top meat-consuming countries or regions.”

The petition points out that 86 billion animals are farmed every year, contributing to the climate crisis by producing an excessive level of greenhouse gas emissions. The livestock sector is responsible for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire global transport sector.

The petition brings attention to the actual toll that major animal agriculture industries bring on the environment, asserting that the world leaders must be held responsible for successfully combating environmental disasters. Meat production requires approximately 20 to 33 percent of all fresh water on the planet – a shocking figure when 884 million people do not have safe drinking water.

Currently, the 20 top livestock companies produce more greenhouse gas emissions than three of the top economies in the EU: France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The petition claims that these major countries must face off with the livestock sector to properly save the planet. To halt the climate crisis, the United States and the EU must reduce meat consumption by 75 percent, according to a recent report from the University of Bonn.

“It’s critical these world leaders act to bring forward a meat and dairy reduction and support a shift to nature-friendly, higher welfare farming, as a matter of urgency,” Moyes said. “Factory farming is significantly contributing to one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time and leaders of those countries where meat consumption is particularly high, must play their part to ensure we meet the Paris Agreement targets. We must turn up the heat on world leaders to keep the global temperature down!”

Eating for the Planet

Increasingly, consumers have started shifting their diets to prioritize the planet with one survey finding that 55 percent of shoppers think about sustainability at the grocery store. The progressively popular diet has been adopted by climatarians – defined as “[people] who choose what to eat according to what is least harmful to the environment.”

With the climate crisis at its breaking point, research and experts are emphasizing the importance of even shifting toward plant-based diets. Eating plant-based even just twice a week for a year is equivalent to planting 14 billion trees, helping absorb carbon from the atmosphere and reverse deforestation. Another study found that plant-based diets could help slash food-related greenhouse gases by 61 percent, revealing the importance of government action when it comes to promoting a new, sustainable food system.

The Plant-Based Treaty

When the United Nation first released its “code red” report on climate, one initiative entitled The Plant Based Treaty was launched to extend the Paris Agreement to more plant-based solutions. The sustainable treaty is a grassroots campaign to promote how plant-based food systems could significantly help the planet stop the dangers of the climate crisis. This treaty echoes the urgency of the CIWP treaty delivered earlier this month.

“This report makes it clear that rapid, strong, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gases are needed now. We cannot wait two, five, or ten years. It has to be done now,” Director of communications at Plant Based Treaty Nicola Harris said in response to the 2021 UN IPCC report. “We need to transform to a plant-based food system as a matter of urgency if we are to reduce methane to safe levels and slow global warming.”

For more planetary news, visit The Beet's Environment category. 

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