By signing the Declaration, countries agree to bring down carbon emissions caused by food production
Food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, has today welcomed the signing of a Declaration by global leaders which pledges to reduce carbon emissions from the food system.
The Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action was signed by 134 countries at COP28, the UN climate summit which started this week in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The Declaration is significant because it includes the need for agricultural systems to be included in countries’ plans to tackle climate change, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2025. NDCs are the main way countries can set climate targets at COP.
“We are really pleased that after many years of work at COP, countries have finally agreed to tackle emissions from the global food system,” Raphaël Podselver, Director of UN Affairs at ProVeg International, said.
“The food system emits a third of global greenhouse gases and most of that comes from animal agriculture. We now hope signatories to the Declaration will look at ways to promote the production and consumption of plant-based, climate-friendly food to honour the goals of the Declaration,” Podselver said.
Plant-based foods emit half as much greenhouse gas as animal-based foods so they present an effective way of tackling climate change.
Plant-based is already on the menu
The COP28 Presidency has already committed to providing two thirds plant-based food for delegates at COP28, setting a precedent for future COPs.
The decision to serve mostly plant-based food follows months of collaboration between YOUNGO, the Youth and Children constituency of the UNFCCC, and Food@COP, a campaign within YOUNGO dedicated to ensuring COP events have climate-friendly catering, supported by ProVeg.
Notes to editors
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Some background data on food 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
Our vision is a world where everyone chooses delicious and healthy food that is good for all humans, animals, and our planet. 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.