COP27 took place during the first half of November this year in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Yet again, the impact of meat and dairy was not addressed.
Research confirms that without addressing the current food system, it would be impossible to meet the 2°C target, even if all fossil fuel emissions are eliminated.
Livestock accounts for nearly a third of the global methane emissions linked to human activity, released in the form of cattle burps, manure and the growing of feed crops. Global meat and dairy production account for 83 percent of farmland use and 60% of the agriculture sector’s emissions. However, it contributes just 18% of the world’s calories.
Viva points out that of the 193 signatories to the Paris Agreement, only 12 name emissions from farmed animals, two mention dietary change, and none mention reduction of livestock production.
An open letter signed by celebrities, politicians, and businesses was delivered to COP27 President Sameh Shoukry, calling for “a broad, holistic approach to a sustainable and just plant-based food transition through a global Plant Based Treaty this decade to avert climate catastrophe”.
The new Food4Climate pavilion was sponsored by a number of organizations who want to encourage UN member states to transition towards a plant-focused food system. These include Eurogroup for Animals, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS, World Animal Protection and ProVeg. Their Diet Change Not Climate Change campaign banner was showcased throughout the COP27 event.
Food systems discussed at side sessions
While food systems does not yet have the place it deserves on this year’s COP27 agenda in Sharm el-Sheikh, it was addressed in important side-sessions.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held an event on ‘Climate Resilience in Food Systems – why act now?’ where it was recognised that food systems, despite their significant impact on emissions, have been lacking at the climate meetings. The panel proposed that food systems should get a stronger place on the COP agenda next year.
Compassion in World Farming launched a new global petition ‘End of the Line for Factory farming’, calling on the UN and global leaders for a UN global agreement to end factory farming and reduce the consumption of meat and animal products.
World Animal Protection presented the new report ‘Climate change and cruelty – the true impact of factory farming’ in a session that showcased the impact of intensive animal agriculture on climate change. Together with Eurogroup for Animals, WAP also hosted a side-event on ‘Transitioning agriculture systems for sustainability and climate resistance’ bringing together experts in food, climate and animal welfare to discuss why a Just Protein Transition to plant-based proteins and agroecological farming is critical.
The Smart Protein project hosted an ‘Innovation for Protein Diversification’ session as part of the Horizon4Proteins collaboration, where positive and comprehensive policy frameworks were discussed to support the development of alternative proteins.
Sophika Kostyniuk, Managing Director of Aquatic Life Institute, spoke at the Food Systems Pavilion event ‘Innovation and Technology in Water and Aquatic Food Systems’, emphasising that 2-3 trillion aquatic animals are killed for human consumption every year.
Another event, ‘Alternative Proteins: Boosting Sustainable Food Security Resilience through Science’, addressed plant-based food and cellular agriculture.
An agreement was eventually reached to provide a ‘loss and damage’ fund to help poorer countries who are experiencing the effects of climate change. Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, said the fund was “an important step towards justice” for poor countries that have done little to cause the climate crisis, but are suffering its worst impacts.
Commentators say the outcome of COP27 is disappointing and the pledges made at the summit will not be enough to keep the planet within the 1.5°C limit. However, the delegates agreed to return each year to strengthen them – a process known as the’ ratchet’.