COP26: The Global North Must Lead

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» COP26: The Global North Must Lead

The Global North has already put vastly more than our global fair share of Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) into Earth’s atmosphere, including around 90% of the excess CO2. They are also the wealthiest, and thus must cut their own GHG emission enough to keep the world below the 1.5°C target.  

This is why we call for consistent leadership from the Global North in the shift towards sustainable, fair plant-based food systems. There are examples already in action in countries such as The Netherlands, Canada and Portugal.  

In 2019, the courts in the Netherlands ruled their Government in breach of EU law, for not controlling nitrogen in vulnerable natural areas. In response, the Finance and Agriculture Ministry is considering visionary plans to reduce farmed animal numbers by 30%.  

In 2017, Portugal passed legislation requiring plant-based and vegan-friendly meals on every public sector menu (e.g. schools, universities, hospitals, prisons and so on) in the country. This will have significant public health benefits. However, another major effect of implementing such legislation. will be increase the market for plant protein and other crops. Diets centred on plant protein will become more affordable to more people. This in turn will support and enable farmers wishing to make the transition to sustainable plant-based techniques.   

Canada has invested in legume farming since the 1970s, including research and development of diversified cropping systems and the adoption of improved cultivars. The Pulse Canada organization of farmers and exporters now has a ambitious “25 by 2025” strategy, to increase the value of their crops by getting 25% of pulse production into new, higher value markets and uses by 2025. In Canada, about 20% of arable land is now in crop rotations including legumes, whereas the figure is only about 1% across Europe. Meanwhile, Europe currently gets most of its protein-rich animal feed crops by importing soya beans from South America, driving deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. 

Hence, our Policy Ask 1: Consistent leadership from the Global North in the shift towards sustainable, fair plant-based food systems e.g. The Netherlands’ reduction of farmed animal numbers, Canada’s investment in plant protein and Portugal’s support for plant-based public sector food. 

Learn more from our COP26 Policy briefing – "Achieving Climate Goals through Plant-Based Agriculture and Food". The Vegan Society is at COP26. 

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