Government urged to shift to plant-based food system

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Scientists and MPs have signed an open letter calling for a shift to a plant-based food system
Scientists and MPs have signed an open letter calling for a shift to a plant-based food system

Related tags COP26 plant-based

World leaders have been urged to negotiate a global transition to a plant-based food system in an open letter signed by Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) Scientists, Nobel Laureates and MPs.

Backed by Nobel Laureates, Roger D. Kornberg (2006 prize in Chemistry), Eric S. Maskin (2007 prize in Economic Sciences) and Sidney Altman (1989 prize in Chemistry), the Plant Based Treaty initiative called for a halt to the expansion of animal agriculture and for governments to incentivize a shift to a plant-based economy.

The demands followed a perceived omission of plant-based solutions from methane and deforestation pledges at COP26.

More than 40 scientists signed the treaty, which called for governments to urgently address animal agriculture “before we irreversibly surpass planetary tipping points”.

‘Key climate change mitigation tool’

“A shift to plant-based diets is a key climate change mitigation tool and has been widely supported by a range of academic and scientific institutions as an essential step in lessening the climate crisis,”​ read the open letter.

The treaty has three core principles:

  • Relinquish: ​No land use change, ecosystem degradation or deforestation for animal agriculture
  • Redirect: ​An active transition away from animal-based systems to plant-based systems
  • Restore: ​Actively restore key ecosystems, particularly restoring forests and rewilding landscapes

The initiative has drawn support from high profile environmental activist George Monbiot, The Guardian​ columnist, author and founder of The Land is Ours countryside access campaign.

We must all do our part to protect the planet – and cutting out meat, eggs, and dairy is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help​,” said Monbiot. “Animal agriculture is responsible for sky-high carbon emissions as well as the suffering of billions of animals each year.

‘We’re putting our future at risk’

“If COP26 organisers are serious about preventing an imminent climate catastrophe, they must address the elephant in the room – so long as we raise and kill animals for food, we’re putting our future at risk.”

Ahead of COP26, 18 MPs – including Emma Lewell Buck​, Caroline Lucas​ and John McDonnell – ​signed an Early Day Motion welcoming the Plant Based Treaty initiative and called on the government to put food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis by encouraging a shift to healthier and sustainable plant-based diets.


Plant Based Treaty global campaign coordinator Anita Krajnc added: “As COP26 draws to a close there is unease that despite pledges on methane and deforestation, the giant cow in the room has been ignored.

“The climate crisis is a code red for humanity and we urge Egypt to ensure animal agriculture is off the menu and on the agenda at COP27 by organizing a food systems summit to negotiate nature-friendly plant-based solutions.”

Related topics Supply Chain Plant-Based

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