Progress made at COP28 to cut emissions from agriculture has triggered one US Congressman to berate the UN for its “anti-beef” strategy
The growing call to transition to more climate-friendly diets in order to avert ecosystem collapse will likely see the growth of a phenomenon as counterproductive as climate change denial – climate diet denial.
The UN climate conference, COP28, ended in Dubai last week and made significant strides towards addressing emissions from animal agriculture, including with the publication by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of its Roadmap to 1.5C, which calls for a decrease in meat consumption.
But the Roadmap triggered one US Congressman to issue a statement claiming that the UN had an “anti-beef” strategy. Representative Mike Flood went on to introduce a Resolution into Congress which disapproves of the Roadmap and opposes the allocation of any Federal funds towards initiatives aimed at reducing meat.
Jasmijn de Boo, Global CEO of food awareness organisation ProVeg International, said: “There is an ever broader consensus among the scientific community that the need to shift to more plant-based diets is crucial to mitigate climate change.
“The evidence shows, in particular, that the production of beef is causing huge harm to the environment, not just in terms of methane and other emissions but also in terms of deforestation for the production of cattle feed and the creation of grazing land along with vast amounts of water usage. The high appetite for beef and large imports by western nations fuels massive land, forest and biodiversity loss, and pollution in the global south. This is as much a social justice issue as it is a climate issue.
“To deny the impact of beef on the environment in the way Congressman Flood is doing will delay the action we need to take in order to keep within the globally agreed temperature limits. We have seen the harm that climate change denial causes. We are now witnessing climate diet denial, which is equally counterproductive.”
Animal agriculture and plant-based diets
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 20% of total greenhouse gas emissions 1 and 32% of methane emissions 2. Animal agriculture is a leading cause of deforestation 3 with around 70% of deforestation in the Amazon due to cattle farming alone.
Animal agriculture also uses about 80% of global agricultural land 4 5 – an area the size of North and South America combined. 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.
As well as the FAO’s Roadmap, the UN Environment Programme published a report during COP28 that recognises the importance of transforming the food system with novel protein alternatives. Other measures, including two Declarations, were agreed at COP28 that highlight the importance of healthy, sustainable diets.
On top of this, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that a shift to more plant-based diets will help mitigate climate change.
Without transforming current food-consumption behaviours, the Paris Agreement will not be achieved 6. This means that global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees, even if current fossil fuel emissions are completely halted.
Leading lights in food transformation
This was followed by South Korea, a country that scored a first for Asia when it unveiled its strategy to promote plant-based food.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Peter Rixon or Jillian LaBruzzo at [email protected]
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.
- Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods | Nature Food
- Cutting livestock methane emissions for stronger climate action (fao.org)
- Sustainability | Free Full-Text | Reducing Amazon Deforestation through Agricultural Intensification in the Cerrado for Advancing Food Security and Mitigating Climate Change (mdpi.com)
- Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers | Science
- Ritchie, H., M. Roser (2019): Land Use. Our World in Data. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/land-use
- Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change targets | Science