Climate Change: Meat-heavy menu at climate conference

UNSUSTAINABLE DIET::The menu from the 12-day COP24 could emit about the same amount of greenhouse gases as burning 1.9 million liters of gasoline, a nonprofit said


Thu, Dec 06, 2018 - Page 5

“Eat less meat” has become a mantra of climate change advocates, but there is plenty of meat on the menu at the COP24.

The 22,000 delegates attending the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) this week in Katowice, Poland, are to try to hammer out specific rules to hold signatories to emissions-reduction pledges made in Paris two years ago.

However, three nonprofits have said that the conference’s menu, which features more meat and dairy than plant-based options, sends an unfortunate if perhaps unintended message from a group whose focus is to slow the Earth’s march toward calamity.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has estimated that 14.5 percent of global emissions come from livestock alone. Eliminating those emissions would go a long way toward meeting emissions goals, animal welfare and environmental advocates have said.

Slowly, but surely, changes to diet are being seen as an important piece of climate change mitigation plans.

In the span of one week in October, for example, three major climate change reports all called for less meat and dairy-heavy diets.

First, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated with “high confidence” that changing dietary behaviors could be an effective mitigation strategy.

Then, a study in Nature called for major reductions in the consumption of meat and dairy, with nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables subbing in.

Finally, a plan presented by the Climate, Land, Ambition & Rights Alliance found that global temperatures could be kept from rising more than 1.5°C by limiting individual meat consumption to about two 140g servings per week.

Such a radical shift in the human diet would fundamentally alter the way food is produced and help tackle other issues, such as biodiversity loss, violations of indigenous rights and food insecurity, the group said.

However, at COP24, attendees are offered cheeseburgers, gnocchi with parmesan and Parma ham, and beef with smoked bacon, the Center for Biological Diversity, Farm Forward and Brighter Green said.

It said that the menu from the 12-day conference could emit about the same amount of greenhouse gases as burning 1.9 million liters of gasoline, if all the attendees chose meat-based dishes at the site’s largest food court.

Along with sessions on energy, finance and oceans, the COP24 agenda also included an event yesterday, titled “Planetary Health: Food Systems Event,” organized by EAT, the UN Climate Change secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative and the Rockefeller Foundation.

It “aims to raise awareness of the role of food systems in addressing both climate change and the sustainable development goals,” according to the event’s Web site.