San Diego Creates Plan to Cut Meat and Dairy Consumption for Climate Change
Although the United States government has taken steps to reduce climate change risk factors, recent rulings from the Supreme Court have troubled environmentalists and sewn doubt that the U.S. will achieve 50 percent emissions by 2030. Now, San Diego’s city council plans to help the country protect the planet and reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.
Nestled in Southern California, San Diego faces the worst of the byproducts of the climate crisis, including record-breaking temperatures and longstanding droughts. This climate plan will provide a blueprint for other southwest cities, joining similar efforts from Berkley; Washington D.C.; and New York City.
The Climate Action Plan concludes a two-year effort from a coalition of 20 local organizers. San Diego’s comprehensive carbon-neutral campaign will set a new standard for city action regarding dangerous environmentally-unfriendly practices.
“We experience the impacts of climate change through increased wildfires, extreme heat, sea-level rise, drought, and severe rainfall,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “Science shows us that the window to reverse the trends of climate change is rapidly closing and the time for action is now. We are setting the City on the path to net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2035.”
The Climate Action Plan emphasizes the importance of food-related infrastructural changes. The climate plan outlines that San Diego plans to reduce its meat- and dairy-related emissions by 20 percent. The plan also notes that it hopes to cut its water footprint by the same percentage. The city plans to promote a plant-based agriculture and food system to replace the existing animal agriculture industries.
“Food systems, including deforestation for industrial agricultural use, food production, transportation, processing and packaging, freezing and retail, and waste account for 37 percent of total global GHGs” the report reads. “Eliminating food waste will require structural changes throughout the private sector, which the City will influence through both policy and advocacy. Fighting food insecurity through edible food recovery is one important strategy. Edible food recovery involves foods that would otherwise be wasted will be recovered and distributed to residents with the least access to affordable, healthy food.”
City-Led Sustainability Campaigns
Last July, the Berkley City Council announced that it would replace approximately 50 percent of its animal-based food expenditures with plant-based options by 2024. The transitional efforts aim to cut waste and greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the city government. The campaign marked the first step in the city’s plan to cut animal-based products from all city-run establishments including municipal buildings, senior centers,s the jail, and more, according to The Daily Californian.
Research has found that plant-based diets could help slash greenhouse gas emissions by 61 percent, according to Nature Food. Government assistance can help accelerate climate action, significantly reducing the harmful pressures on the environment. In New York City, vegan Mayor Eric Adams consistently campaigns for plant-based programs, including “Vegan Fridays” – a plant-based meal program providing healthy meals to all one million NYC public school system students.
International Plant-Based Funds
Outside of the United States, several countries have launched plant-based inspired initiatives to combat climate change, including Denmark. This April, the country invested $100 million into a fund exclusively devoted to promoting plant-based education, sales, and innovation in the country. The program aims to undercut the negative environmental consequences of Denmark's large meat industry.
One campaign, The Plant-Based Treaty, aims to expand upon the existing climate goals set by the Paris Agreement, emphasizing that the country and its citizens must adopt plant-based practices to successfully counter the worsening climate crisis. Organized by three tenets (Relinquish, Redirect, and Restore), the initiative emphasizes the urgency needed to protect the planet.
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