More plant based diets necessary to mitigate climate change

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The final instalment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), published today, clearly reiterates that more plant-based diets are necessary to help mitigate climate change before the planet descends into climate chaos, according to global food awareness organisation, ProVeg International.

“The IPCC synthesis report highlights the need to shift to more plant-based diets to reduce GHG emissions from the agriculture sector and meet the Paris Agreement of keeping below 1.5C,” Raphaël Podselver, Director of UN Affairs at ProVeg International, said.

“Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 20% of carbon emissions and only by shifting to more climate-friendly diets – grains, beans, pulses, fruit, vegetables and alternative proteins – will we reduce these emissions,” Podselver added.

While food systems generally are responsible for up to one third of global emissions, this huge share is not represented in the latest report, which ProVeg described today as “a missed opportunity” to raise awareness about the effects of diet on the climate.

“The report mentions the importance of shifting towards more sustainable, balanced plant-rich diets, but direct recommendations from past reports exploring the potential of alternative proteins to immediately mitigate the impact of emissions from food systems were not mentioned in the synthesis,” Podselver said.

The report brings together the thousands of pages of previous reports in this sixth round into summary format, to inform UN policymakers on climate change at this year’s UN climate summit, COP28, taking place in the United Arab Emirates this November.

IPCC recommends “balanced diets”

Specifically, the IPCC synthesis report notes that “balanced and sustainable healthy diets and reduced food loss and waste present important opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of biodiversity and human health.”

The report notes that “balanced diets” are diets that feature plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems.

The report also states that  “unsustainable agricultural expansion, driven in part by unbalanced diets, increases ecosystem and human vulnerability and leads to competition for land and/or water resources.”

ProVeg at COP28

ProVeg will be present at this year’s COP28, promoting the importance of plant-rich nutrition for the climate and health.

“COP28 will, for the first time in history, dedicate a substantial part of its program to food system transformation. This will provide a valuable opportunity for UN policymakers to absorb the messages in this report and formulate policies that can help the world to transition to more plant-based food systems, and as quickly as possible,” Podselver added.

ProVeg was granted Observer Status at the hugely influential IPCC in October 2022. Representatives of Observer Organisations can attend sessions of the IPCC and the plenary sessions of the IPCC Working Groups. They are also invited to encourage experts to review draft IPCC reports. These experts participate in the review process in their own name and not on behalf of the Observer Organisation.

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