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Safe and Just Report Offers Cop28 Real Solutions to Climate Crisis

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Safe and Just Report Offers Cop28 Real Solutions to Climate Crisis

Rajeshwar Singh

Celebrities, including Moby, have endorsed The Plant Based Treaty’s Safe and Just Report launched at a press conference in Dubai during COP28’s Food, Agriculture and Water Day.

December 11th, 2023 —  Dubai, UAE — The Plant Based Treaty’s Safe and Just Report represents an urgent demand that the world’s governments change their current approach to food systems by moving past what organizers describe as “carbon tunnel vision” which ignores animal agriculture’s substantial role in climate change. The report calls for climate negotiations to finally face this overlooked contributor to the crisis and include transitioning to a plant-based food system as part of the UN’s efforts to reverse the escalating climate emergency. A coalition of groups also held a protest at the UN Climate Conference in Dubai to urge individuals and governments to sign the Plant Based Treaty.

Watch The Historic COP28 News Conference Here!

“Address The Cow in the Room”

“The emissions from the food system alone will put the 1.5 and 2C climate target out of reach – we need a safe and just transition of our food system to keep us safe within our planetary boundaries, which is also socially just and gives everyone a voice, and brings everyone to the table,” said Steven George, science ambassador for the Plant Based Treaty.

A map shows the staggering amount of land used for animal agriculture.
A map shows the staggering amount of land used for animal agriculture.

This forthright demand that the UN and its member nations address “the cow in the room” comes in the wake of news reports alleging the issue has been proactively suppressed due to industry pressure on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In March of 2023, Quartz magazine reported, “The meat industry blocked the IPCC’s attempt to recommend a plant-based diet. A leaked draft revealed how the meat industry is obstructing efforts to curb climate change.”

Animal agriculture is a leading source of methane and the news conference zeroed in on methane’s alarming contributions to global warming and the urgent need to reduce the potent gas.  Per the report, “Transitioning away from animal agriculture creates time to decarbonize the energy sector, transform global food systems into a carbon sink, and restore degraded land to regenerate the biosphere’s resilience. Therefore, a plant-based food system with low methane emissions offers a significant opportunity to slow global temperature rises.”

The Safe and Just Report’s Specific Recommendations

Specifically, the report calls for a meat tax as a strategy to curb consumption and incentivize investment in plant-based products. It also calls for a global ban on live animal exports and urges cities to lead the way by instituting plant-based policies within city government institutions. 22 cities, from Los Angeles to Edinburgh, have already endorsed the treaty. Perhaps most significantly, it calls on the world’s biggest banks to stop investing billions of dollars in industrialized animal agriculture and demands governments around the world end billions in subsidies to the animal agriculture industry.

Per the report, “Governments need to redirect subsidies from projects that promote increased consumption of meat and dairy, to instead promote plant-based diets. Stricter regulations are needed on private financial instruments and multilateral development banks to properly address the safeguarding of the planetary boundaries.”

What is Vegan Donut Economics?

The Plant Based Treaty proposes Vegan Donut Economics as a framework for a step-by-step transition to a plant-based food system.  This model challenges the traditional global economic system that favors never-ending growth and profit over ecological sustainability and human health. In contrast, models like Vegan Doughnut Economics propose solutions to reform the global food system while enhancing the biosphere’s resilience and recognizing the vital role of Indigenous communities in protecting ecosystems.

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COP28 Protesters Demand the UN Acknowledge Meat’s High Emissions

Environmental groups call for a Plant Based Treaty to be negotiated at COP28
Environmental groups call for a Plant Based Treaty to be negotiated at COP28

Along with the historic news conference, a coalition of groups calling for a Plant Based Treaty to be negotiated at COP28 held a protest at the UN conference. Research and planning organization COBASE, which focuses on designing natural cities, and the Gherush92 Committee for Human Rights are two groups that joined the protest.  Placards reading “Sign the Plant Based Treaty” were available in several different languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese and Georgian.

Gaining Traction

The Plant Based Treaty holds an official UN Observer Status and is also an official 2024 Earth Shot Prize nominee. This groundbreaking initiative draws inspiration from past treaties that addressed threats like ozone layer depletion and nuclear weapons. The movement has gained traction with the backing of 120,000 individual endorsers, including support from 5 Nobel laureates, IPCC scientists, and over 3,000 groups and businesses, notably the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Greenpeace chapters, and Friends of the Earth.

Celebrities like Chris Packham and Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney have come out publicly in support of the Plant Based Treaty. In a joint statement, they said, “We believe in justice for animals, the environment and people. That’s why we support the Plant Based Treaty and urge individuals and governments to sign it.”

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