Three global NGOs – Climate Save Movement, ProVeg International and World Animal Protection – urged policymakers at this year’s conference to transition away from animal agriculture if they want to tackle the climate crisis and safeguard the planet’s population.
They called for an urgent shift to plant-based diets in order to tackle the 32% of human-caused methane attributed to animal agriculture, which had increased to 17 parts per billion in 2021 from 15.3 in 2020.
Kelly Dent, global director of external engagement at World Animal Protection, said: “We are currently hurtling towards the 1.5 degree limit for global warming set out in the Paris Agreement so it is imperative to transition away from factory farming and the cruelty it involves, towards plant-based and other alternative proteins.”
ProVeg head of UN advocacy Raphaël Pods Elver bemoaned the fact that, while the scientific evidence and consensus to shift towards less resource intensive systems were in place, not much had been done in the way development at the policy level.
“There is an urgent need to shift towards more plant-based diets, as those have been recognised as a key solution to mitigate the impact of food systems on climate change,” said Podselver.
“We are now hoping that a shift towards more plant-rich diets will become a central part of climate change discussions at COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in November this year.”
The wholesale shift from meat to alternative forms of protein has been criticised by members of the food and drink industry.
Don’t ditch meat
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) last year urged the UK government to invest more time and money in proven ways to help reduce meat’s carbon footprint, rather than throwing the whole system away in favour of alternative proteins.
“Much progress has been made already,” said BMPA chief executive Nick Allen. “This would then enable land that cannot be used for growing crops to be used to help feed the ever-growing population on the planet with a healthy balanced diet that includes meat which uniquely provides essential vitamins.
“The full carbon footprint of heavily processing product from plants into meat lookalikes is not fully understood although we do know they don’t replace the nutrients supplied by meat.”