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COP26: Leading climate scientists sign an open letter calling for governments to support the Plant Based Treaty

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3 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Sinking House for COP26

Over 40 climate scientists from around the globe have signed an open letter asking political leaders to recognise animal agriculture as one of the leading catalysts of climate change and enforce an international shift to eating more sustainable vegan diets.

The letter comes following COP26, where plant-based solutions were left out of the pledges made at the conference which included promises to cut methane and deforestation. 

Between a quarter and a third of greenhouse gas emissions currently come from food systems according to the latest research from Our World in Data, making it a vital topic of conversation with regards to climate change.

The Plant Based Treaty global campaign coordinator Anita Krajnc said: “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.”

Eighteen MPs also signed an Early Day Motion in September prior to COP26, supporting the Plant-Based Treaty, and asking the British government to focus on changing food systems for the better to tackle climate change, and provide healthier, sustainable plant-based diets.

“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”, the letter says.

Nobel Laureates Roger D Kornberg, Eric S. Masin and Signey Altman make up some of the supporters of the Treaty, as well as British environmental activist George Monbiot, and the McCartney family.

Youth leaders from Fridays for Future and Youth Climate Save and interfaith leaders have also endorsed the Treaty, signing their own open letter which asks world leaders to make reasonable efforts to help the world shift to plant-based food systems.

The treaty includes the following three main demands:

  • To “Relinquish” – this includes ending the creation of new animal and fish farms or abattoirs, as well as banning deforestation for animal grazing and animal farming. 
  • To “Redirect” – which encompasses prioritising a shift to plant-based diets in Climate Action Plans, making nutritious food accessible to everyone, as well as introducing a meat and fish tax, with the money going to restoring land that has been destroyed by animal agriculture.
  • To “Restore” – including rebuilding critical ecosystems, developing reforestation projects, and making subsidies available for farmers and landowners who are restoring their land and improving biodiversity and resilience to climate change.

Acting alongside the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, the Plant Based Treaty is modelled on the Fossil Fuel Treaty, which aims to end the use of fossil fuels and transition to using alternative forms of energy.

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