This Earth Day, youth activists call for food served at UN climate summit to be at least 75% plant-based

Members of YOUNGO, Food@COP and ProVeg Youth Board say catering at COP28 must be climate-friendly

The food served at COP28 –  this year’s UN climate summit – must be climate-friendly otherwise the catering will contradict the very purpose of the conference, a group of young climate activists have said.

On the occasion of Earth Day (22ndApril) members of YOUNGO, Food@COPFood@COP and the ProVeg Youth Board have sent a letter to the government of the United Arab Emirates, which is hosting this year’s COP28 in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.

The letter calls for at least 75% of the catering to be plant-based, for all food options – especially plant-based items – to be affordable, nutritious, regionally sourced (where feasible), and culturally inclusive, and to have a clear emissions label displayed, as implemented at COP26.

There is no better place than COP28 to set an example for the world – in front of delegates from nearly 200 countries – by providing plant-based catering,Brunna Sachs, a 13-year-old Brazilian climate activist and member of the ProVeg Youth Board, said. 

Plant-based food emits half the greenhouse gases as animal-based food [Footnote 1] so we are urging organising to ensure that at least 75% of the food at COP28 is plant-based,” Sachs said.

 

What is the point in discussing how to reduce greenhouse emissions and then serving people with food that is hugely contributing to the problem? We are calling on the COP28 organisers in Dubai to make history with this summit and deliver climate-friendly meals,” Sachs adds.

As in prior years, ProVeg will be present at this year’s COP28, promoting the importance of plant-rich nutrition for the climate and health, with the help of the Youth Board.

The UAE has a unique opportunity to set another milestone and become the first presidency to make catering at COP truly sustainable and predominantly plant-based,” Raphaël Podselver, Director of UN Affairs at Proveg, said.  

This step would also allow the UAE to highlight the importance of food systems in climate action, showcase its rich local cuisine, and cement its status as a pioneer in the use of innovative food and agriculture technologies,” he added.

What science says about the need to transition to more plant-based diets 

  • Food systems are responsible for up to one third of global emissions [Footnotes 2, 3, 4], and animal agriculture is responsible for most of that third. 
  • The latest IPCC report highlights the need to shift to more plant-based diets to help mitigate climate change before the planet descends into climate chaos. 
  • Worldwide, meat and dairy provides just 18% of calories consumed, but uses 83% of global farmland. Plant-based diets can address this imbalance.
  • A study from Bonn University published last month stated that rich countries will need to reduce their meat consumption by up to 75% to meet international climate targets and avoid ecosystem collapse
  • Reducing resource-intensive meat production will help us feed the 10 billion people expected to be living on our planet in the year 2050.
  • 80% of the world’s deforestation is related to our current food system.
  • Researchers have found that growing food exclusively for direct human consumption, rather than as animal feed and for biofuel production, could potentially increase available food calories by as much as 70%, which could feed an additional 4 billion people.

Footnotes:

1) Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods | Nature Food

2) Crippa, M., E. Solazzo, D. Guizzardi, et al. (2021): Food systems are responsible for a third of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Nature Food 2(3), 198–209.

3) IPCC (2019): Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

 

Notes to Editors 

For media inquiries on interviews with the Youth Board, email Juliette Tronchon at [email protected]

 

About ProVeg International 

ProVeg is an international food awareness organisation working to transform the global food system by replacing conventional animal-based products with plant-based and cultivated alternatives.

ProVeg works with international decision-making bodies, governments, food producers, investors, the media, and the general public to help the world transition to a society and economy that are less dependent on animal agriculture and more sustainable for humans, animals, and the planet.

ProVeg has permanent-observer status with the UNFCCC, is accredited for UNEA, and has received the United Nations’ Momentum for Change Award. ProVeg also has Observer Status at the IPCC.

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