Press conference at COP26 hosted by ProVeg International.

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

ProVeg International Calls For A Food Day at COP27

Following a gravely disappointing outcome at COP26 many NGOs are calling for a Food Day at next year’s United Nations’ International Climate Conference, creating a moment of hope for the food systems movement to tackle the climate crisis.

One of the most international gatherings of its kind, COP26 was perhaps the most crucial climate event the world has ever seen. More than 25.000 delegates gathered in Glasgow for a crucial summit, following the cancellation of last year’s COP due to COVID19.

ProVeg International, a food awareness organisation, having spent much of the past year in preparation for the conference following its cancellation in 2020, hosted several official events in the negotiations Blue Zone, provided input in numerous meetings and discussions, and met with delegates from around the world to put food-systems change on the menu. 

Methane from livestock accounts for nearly 30% of the global methane pollution. This is comparable with the methane emissions coming from fossil fuels (around 35%) . These alarming numbers indicate that a shift towards a more plant-based food system is essential and should feature widely on the agenda of next year’s COP.

Raphael Podselver, Head of UN Advocacy ProVeg International

The first days of COP26, however, were dominated by two insufficient, yet crucial announcements on deforestation and methane as once again, world leaders refused to acknowledge the scientific evidence available in countless UN and IPCC reports. At the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, 137 countries committed to collectively halt deforestation by 2030. The Global Methane Pledge, led by the US and the EU, and joined by over 100 countries, aims at reducing Methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Considering the central role of industrial animal agriculture in global deforestation and methane emissions (around 30% of emissions), countries will have to work towards a reduction in the production of resource intensive food. These pledges are a fledgling step in the right direction, but those need to be supported by concrete commitments and policies around agriculture and food. 

Our food systems represent one third of total greenhouse gas emissions. The world is not on track to achieving the Paris Agreement and it will not do so without a fundamental shift. This lack of action has prompted leading climate voices such as ProVeg International and Greenpeace to label the United Nations event a “COP-out”.

Patrick O Brown, CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods, shared a corporate perspective on the potential role of the private sector in accelerating a more resilient food system;

By completely replacing animals as a food production technology with options that are preferred by consumers, we have the ability to unlock negative emissions sufficient to offset all projected fossil fuel emissions through 2060, and 70% of projected fossil fuel emissions through 2022.

It is an important step but is not enough,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his wrap up message to the conference. “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero.”

“Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net-zero will itself be zero.”

António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General

While the role of the corporate sector will be key in preventing any further acceleration of the climate crisis, ProVeg also recognises the vital necessity for structural change at the level of national and international government bodies. The world has to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius temperature change within the next 98 months, this cannot be achieved if governments are unwilling to implement the necessary food system changes.

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