More than 120 countries have signed the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health
Food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has strongly commended the signing at the weekend of an international Declaration highlighting the benefits to health gained from countries shifting to “healthy, sustainable diets”.
The Declaration on Climate and Health, which was signed by 120 countries at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, recognises the impact of climate change on human health, such as from extreme heat, air pollution and infectious diseases.
“The Declaration is a real breakthrough because as well as recognising that human health is being impacted by climate change as global temperatures continue to rise, it also points out that healthy, sustainable diets play a key role in keeping people in good health,” Stephanie Maw, Policy Manager at ProVeg, said.
“This is a clear endorsement of plant-rich diets that are both healthy and climate-friendly. We hope that both this Declaration on Climate and Health, along with the Declaration signed on sustainable agriculture last week, also at COP28, will drive Governments to do more to actively promote the production and consumption of plant-based foods,” Maw said.
ProVeg has also signed a joint statement with nine other organisations welcoming the endorsement by nations of the Declaration.
Earlier this year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that a shift to more plant-based diets is necessary to help mitigate climate change and prevent the planet descending into climate chaos.
The COP28 Presidency said its Declaration on Climate and Health is designed to place health at the heart of climate action and accelerate the development of climate-resilient, sustainable and equitable health systems.
Health Ministers are attending the annual UN climate conference for the first time, alongside their peers from Environment Ministries, signalling a shift in how climate policies are considered, with a stronger focus on the social implications of government decisions.
Notes to Editors
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Background information on plant-based diets and food system transformation
- Globally, food systems are responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and animal agriculture is responsible for one fifth of global emissions.
- Plant-based foods emit half as much greenhouse gas as animal-based foods so they present an effective way for individuals to contribute to tackling climate change.
- Animal agriculture uses 83% of global agricultural land – this is an area the size of North and South America combined. And despite the vast resources needed for production, animal protein only provides 18% of calories and 37% of protein worldwide. Therefore, a vast area of land is needed to supply a very small number of calories, making animal agriculture highly inefficient and harmful to the planet.
- Animal agriculture uses around 70% of the world’s antibiotics in order to limit the spread of disease between livestock. The excessive use of antibiotics contributes heavily to antibiotic resistance and poses a threat to human lives. In 2017, WHO called for farmers and the food industry to stop using antibiotics routinely to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.This year WHO is also collaborating with ProVeg International for an event at COP28 where one of their key takeaway messages is that intensive animal farming is associated with increased risk of antimicrobial resistance. Through shifting towards plant-based diets, the sheer quantity of antibiotics used would be reduced, along with the risk of antibiotic resistance.
- A reduction in livestock would mean fewer crops being fed to animals and instead used for human consumption, easing food security concerns. Therefore, limiting animal agriculture ultimately means more than enough land is freed to produce enough crops for humans.
- Plant-based diets also serve to promote social justice. For example, animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation. Around 80% of deforestation in the Amazon is due to cattle farming alone. And of course, many indigenous communities rely on the forests to sustain their livelihoods.
- Without transforming current food-consumption behaviours, the Paris Agreement will not be achieved. This means that global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees, even if current fossil fuel emissions are completely halted.
About ProVeg International
ProVeg International is a food awareness organisation with the mission to replace 50% of animal products globally with plant-based and cultivated foods by 2040. Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet.