As the world gets to grips with the promises made this week at COP28, countries are being urged to endorse an international plant-based plan to help us eat our way out of climate catastrophe by tucking into … a doughnut?
In a report launched during the protracted wranglings of the climate meeting in Dubai and based on an economic diagram of concentric circles – a “vegan doughnut” – the Plant Based Treaty explains how the current food system crosses every one of nine “planetary boundaries”, and what can be done to restore balance. Its authors say Safe and Just: The Plant Based Treaty’s Vegan Donut Economics Approach to the Food System offers a framework for shifting the global food system to a plant-based one before 2050.
“The world’s food and agriculture system … stands as one of the most environmentally damaging industries and must transition into being a carbon sink in the next two decades if we are to address the multifaceted challenges of our time,” the report says.
Among the 12 solutions it offers are “No land use change”: preventing land from being given over to farming, which would halt deforestation and allow three quarters of agricultural land to be rewilded; “Food security”: feeding vastly more people with more calories per acre by sowing crops and vegetables rather than using land to raise cattle or grow livestock feed; and “Finance plant-based systems”: cutting the vast subsidies spent on meat and livestock farming – a staggering $23 million a minute this year, according to the World Bank – and redirecting them towards environmentally friendly alternatives.
The Plant Based Treaty project was launched in 2021 to help countries meet their responsibilities under the Paris Agreement inked in 2015 at the key COP21 conference in France, which set out the global goal of net zero carbon emissions. Earlier this year Edinburgh became the first European capital city to endorse the treaty, joining 21 other green municipalities around the world, among them Haywards Heath and Norwich, and, most recently, Lambeth.
Launching the report, its co-author, Anita Krajnc, global campaign co-ordinator at The Plant Based Treaty, said meat and dairy consumption were “contributing to the breach of five planetary boundaries, specifically climate change, land-use change, biodiversity, phosphorus and nitrogen, and water use. We need a bold action plan to transition to a plant-based food system before the next ‘global stock take’ at COP30 [in Brazil in 2025]. This requires action at all levels.”
Her co-author, Nicola Harris, added: “We need local, national, and international co-operation to reduce food impacts with plant-based diets. Cities can live up to their reputation as global climate champions by integrating plant-based food strategies into their existing Climate Action Plans, and interlinked programs that address biodiversity, food poverty and community health.”