Summer of sustainability – how ProVeg is shaping the UN’s climate agenda
There are three key environmental dates/events taking place this June. The first is Stockholm +50, which will mark 50 years of global environmental action since the first UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was launched with its inaugural 1972 conference in Sweden. This conference marked the first major international step towards tackling global environmental issues such as pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. It led to the creation of the COP summits and major international policies.
This commemoration is followed by World Environment Day (5 June), which is also organised by UNEP. The theme this year is #OnlyOneEarth, with the event aiming to raise public awareness of the extreme pressure we are putting on our fragile ecosystem.
Last but not least come the UN Intersessionals from 6-16 June at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Germany. This is where national representatives from all the world’s countries will convene to discuss the progress they have made on their individual National Climate Actions Plans (NDCs) since COP26, and outline the goals for COP27, which will take place in Egypt later this year.
Why do UN policies matter?
They are an essential forum for collective change. No country wants to become economically disadvantaged in the pursuit of sustainability, so it is important that everyone commits at the same time. Many treaties are voluntary or self-regulated, but climate policies are becoming increasingly rigorous.
An example of successful global cooperation is the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which banned the use of ozone-depleting substances. All member nations ratified the treaty, and, in the thirty years since, 97% of the damaging substances have been phased out. This has saved an estimated two million people from skin cancer, and enabled the ozone layer to repair itself, which is helping to slow global warming. The treaty continues to be monitored and updated by scientists and politicians working together on this common goal.
In 2015, the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) resulted in the milestone Paris Agreement. This agreement, which was signed by 195 countries, is the first global and legally binding climate deal. Countries committed to working to limit average warming this century to under 1.5 degrees.
What is ProVeg doing?
Our goal is to put food-system change firmly on the climate agenda. The last decade saw the highest human-caused emissions and the warmest average temperatures on record.  Human consumption of animal meat and dairy products is responsible for around 20% of these global emissions. A 2022 study conducted by the University of Bonn warns that rich countries must reduce their meat consumption by up to 75% if climate goals are to be met.
In October 2021, we attended COP26 in Glasgow as permanent observers to the UNFCCC. There, we lobbied for Diet Change Not Climate Change, successfully gaining global media coverage and raising awareness among the public and national governments about the urgent need for global food-system change and a shift towards alternative proteins.
We are continuing to build a coalition of NGOs and businesses in order to lobby governments to formally recognise the devastating impact of intensive animal agriculture on our planet, and to commit to a just transition for farmers. ProVeg will be in Stockholm from 30 May to 3 June to take part in the One Planet Network Forum. We will also be at Stockholm +50 and the subsequent Bonn Climate Change Conference to network with high-level stakeholders – forging new partnerships and strengthening current ones in preparation for COP27. In Bonn, we will be holding a side event entitled ‘Unlocking the potential of protein diversification to build resilient food systems’, which will explore what government actions are needed to achieve that vital goal.
|↑1||https://ozone.unep.org/treaties/montreal-protocol Accessed 2022-04-25|
|↑2||https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/thirty-years-what-montreal-protocol-doing-protect-ozone Accessed 2022-04-25|
|↑3||https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/environmental-moments-un75-timeline Accessed 2022-04-25|
|↑4||https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059061 Accessed 2022-04-25|
|↑5||https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1062332 Accessed 2022-04-25|
|↑6||Xu, X., Sharma, P., Shu, S. et al. Global greenhouse gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods. Nat Food 2, 724–732 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00358-x. Accessed 2022-04-27|
|↑7||.uni-bonn.de/en/news/082-2022 Accessed 2022-05-20|
What can you do?
Take the pledge! Every time you eat a plant-rich meal and reduce your consumption of animal-based products, you're choosing a better and fairer future for our planet. Find out more and get started here.
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