Environmental harm of animal agriculture must be addressed at COP26

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The environmental harm of animal agriculture must be acknowledged and addressed at COP26.

That’s according to The Vegan Society which is gearing up for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) starting in Glasgow this weekend.

The two-week conference has a large number of daily topics, covering finance, energy, nature and transport but officials have failed to create a session that addresses the emissions created by animal agriculture. This is despite the fact that scientific research continues to show that animal agriculture is responsible for up to 16.5% of the world’s human-made greenhouse gas emissions.

Including the Office International de la Viande (IMS) and International Dairy Federation (FIL-IDF), there are around 30 talks and side events in favour of animal agriculture, farming and the meat and dairy sectors. This is in comparison to just one pro plant-based panel, in which The Vegan Society is involved, that looks at a future food system that doesn’t include the use of animals.   

The Vegan Society is calling for global leaders, particularly those in the Global North, to step up and address animal agriculture and support dietary change. We need to see investment in research & development for legume farming and plant-protein supply chains; sustainability legislation (eg Food Sustainability Bill in the UK); and consistent leadership in supporting plant-based transition – for example, in Portugal legislation ensures a plant based option on every public sector menu.

Currently in the UK we don’t have any restrictions, or incentives, to encourage people to switch to a vegan diet, yet we know that 37% are actively reducing or removing animal products from their diets. This is without any sort of governmental intervention, so imagine what impact we could have with a framework that supports easy and affordable plant-based food choices.

Louise Davies, CEO of The Vegan Society, said: “It has been our hope that when world leaders convene to discuss their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and corresponding action plans, dietary change would be high on the agenda.”

“It’s difficult to understand how we can have a conversation about the climate crisis without looking at the damage animal agriculture causes, not just in the UK, but around the world. More than ever we need individuals, decision-makers and public and private organisations to really understand the links between animal farming and environmental damage, sustainability and food security. We want to use COP26 to bring this to the attention of UK and global policy makers.” 

The Vegan Society has observer status at COP26 and a stand in the Blue Zone at Scotland’s largest exhibition space, the Scottish Event Campus (SEC).

Throughout COP26, with sponsorship from Veg Capital and A Well Fed World, The Vegan Society will be promoting the message that you can help the planet simply by updating your plate. We will have a stand in the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre, encouraging people to sign up to try to eat vegan for a week.; while between 4-6 November, we’re collaborating with bluedot for The ‘Plate Up for the Planet’ festival.

As well as sharing petitions that demand world leaders support a plant-based diet the society is also in support of the Plant Based Treaty and is encouraging people to contact their MP to support an Early Day Motion to get the environmental harm of animal agriculture on the agenda.

You can read more about The Vegan Society’s work at COP26 and how you can get involved.

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