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December 03, 2018 - The Vegan Authority


Meatcentric menu at Climate Change Conference adds to global warming

Meatcentric menu at Climate Change Conference adds to global warming
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World leaders at the gathering in Katowice, Poland, for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference (UNFCCC), or COP24, will face mostly meat-laden food choices, a missed opportunity to embrace the environment benefits of plant-based eating.

Only about 15% of the food being offered the conference’s visitors is vegan or plant-based. 

"The data found that if all 30,000 visitors choose meat-based dishes at the conference’s largest food court during the 12-day conference, they would contribute as much as 4,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases (GHG), the equivalent of burning more than 500,000 gallons of gasoline or the GHG attributed to 3,000 people flying from New York to Katowice." 

This is a menu with an unnecessarily high carbon footprint. “The meat-laden menu at COP24 is an insult to the work of the conference,” said Stephanie Feldstein, director of the Population and Sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If the world leaders gathering in Poland hope to address the climate crisis, they need to tackle overconsumption of meat and dairy, starting with what’s on their own plates. That means transitioning the food served at international climate conferences to more plant-based options with smaller carbon footprints.”

“What people eat at a conference may seem like small potatoes when it comes to curbing global emissions,” added Farm Forward’s Claire Fitch. “But if those at the forefront of global climate negotiations aren’t going to ‘walk the talk’ at the highest-level climate conference, how can we expect the rest of the world to get on board?”

“We know that we cannot meet the Paris Agreement goals, or the 1.5C target, with business as usual,” said Caroline Wimberly of Brighter Green, who will be in Katowice for COP24. “Food is not a matter only of personal choice, but an essential factor in solving the climate crisis. Demand-side policies and efforts, including food waste reductions and shifting diets — prioritizing populations with the highest consumption of animal-based foods — are critical in achieving a climate compatible food system and curtailing emissions.”

"The most carbon-intensive entrée available (beef with smoked bacon, 11 kg CO2e per serving) contributes 35 times the greenhouse gas emissions of the least carbon-intensive entrée (cabbage-and-mushroom dumplings)." In addition to resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions, The Center estimates that producing the meat-based dishes requires seven times more land and nearly twice as much water as producing the plant-based dishes.

"If international climate conferences hope to lead the way in addressing the climate crisis, organizers can’t afford to overlook the food offered at their events" urges the Fact Sheet published by Farm Forward, the Center for Biological Diversity and Brighter Green. They go on to emphasize that globally, raising animals for food, contributes up to 15 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and if unabated, this source of food production, alone, will nearly exhaust the global carbon budget for all sectors by 2050.


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