First Time Ever: Plant-Based Food To Be the Focus of UN Climate Conference
Approximately 85 percent of the world’s population is currently feeling the effects of climate change, according to Mercator Research Institute researchers. This year, headlines centering the British heat waves and American droughts underscored the consequences of climate change and emphasized the need for governmental action. For the first time ever, the United Nations will host a food-centric climate event during the COP27 climate change conference.
The Food4Climate Pavilion is organized by the sustainable food non-profit ProVeg International. Featuring 17 additional partners, the sustainable food event will educate guests on how sustainable food is the most effective method to combat climate change. The event highlights that if global temperatures rise above 1.5º Celsius above pre-industrial levels, these dangerous environmental changes will not only become irreversible but will worsen in the coming decades.
“Approval by the UN to set up the Food4Climate Pavilion at COP27 really marks a tectonic shift in the UN’s approach to food systems,” Raphael Podselver, head of UN advocacy at ProVeg, said in a statement. “We hope the pavilion will engage policymakers around the world to address the challenges posed by agriculture and encourage countries to embrace the solutions.”
Located in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the Food4Climate Pavilion will span 130 square meters (five square miles) and provide necessary information to nearly 200 country delegations attending the conference. ProVeg intends to offer primary tools and education for government officials to enact food-centric policies following COP27.
Despite only providing 18 percent of the world’s calories, meat and dairy product requires 83 percent of global farmland. The meat and dairy industry is also responsible for two times the greenhouse gas emissions caused by plant-based diets. As the climate crisis worsens, ProVeg argues that meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals is impossible without massive food and agricultural reform.
“Inaction on food systems at this stage is no longer an option. We need to transition more to plant-based diets to bring down both methane and CO2 emissions effectively,” Podselver noted.“The scientific evidence shows that this transition can help put the brake on climate change as well as ensure food security for future generations.”
“Greenwash Festival” During COP26
On Twitter, Greta Thunberg expressed her dissatisfaction with the COP26 last November. The young climate activist tweeted, “This is no longer a climate conference. This is a Global North greenwash festival,” referring to how governments and major industry players hide environmental damages to the public. The event also faced significant criticism from several climate activists for serving meat at all events and guests flying in on private jets.
Without full transparency, the governments involved at COP26 are guilty of greenwashing. Most countries remain far from their climate commitments, especially since most countries under the Paris Agreement have failed to enact substantial plant-based, sustainable policies. For example, Canada needs to cut meat consumption by 80 percent to reach its net zero emissions pledge by 2050.
Eating to Protect the Planet
This summer, more than 30 million Americans experienced high-heat warnings that scorched the Western United States. Heat waves mark only one of the deadly environmental consequence onset by climate change and fueled by animal agriculture. However, there’s still time to stop climate change. Last April, the United Nations published the third installment of its IPCC report, claiming that three major steps must happen to stop climate change: using less carbon-based energy, removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and eating plant-based.
The report also notes that accompanying carbon emissions, methane is highly dangerous for the environment. The UN researchers claimed that the world must slash methane emissions by 33 percent by 2030 – pointing the finger at the beef and dairy industries. Methane has 80 times more warming power than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it reaches the atmosphere. Currently, cows are responsible for 40 percent of global methane emissions.
The reasons to quit eating animal products increase as the climate crisis rapidly approaches. Here are a few ways eating plant-based can help protect the planet:
- An Impossible Burger requires 78 times less land use to create than a conventional beef burger.
- Plant-based diets can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 61 percent.
- Drought in Kansas will lead farmers to toss 3.85 million bushels of crops this year.
- Eating plant-based twice a week for a year is the equivalent of planting 14 billion trees by helping minimize land use and reversing deadly greenhouse gas emissions
- Eating plant-based helps foster biodiversity and protect approximately 626 species from losing habitable areas.
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