Plant-based transition requested to cut food emissions, C40 World Mayors World Summit

A coalition of almost 200 groups and businesses, including Veg Climate Network, Plant Based Treaty, Better Food Foundation, Future Food 4 Climate, Compassion in World Farming, Humane Society International and Pro Veg International, has called for accelerated action on plant-based food solutions to the climate emergency in an open letter addressed to 100 mayors ahead of a C40 summit this week in Buenos Aires.

Plant-based transition to cut food emissions, C40 Summit

The open letter to the mayors of the C40 cities applauds the efforts of cities to act collaboratively on climate solutions but highlights concerns over the lack of meaningful progress on food-related greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition urges cities to use their collective power to make advances on their climate commitments by following 19 key recommendations on best practices for a plant-based food transition.

C40’s research has identified that the single most impactful action cities can take is to accelerate dietary change towards plant-based diets. To reach C40 targets, such as lowering per capita meat consumption from 58kg to 16kg by 2030, cities must adopt and diffuse best practices to increase plant-based food consumption. Cities play a key role in shifting food norms in their communities and making veg foods more accessible.

Nital Jethalal, President of VegTO and co-chair of the Veg Climate Network, said,

“Shifting diets plant-based is the single most impactful climate action cities can take and would save lives, reduce costs and spur innovation. The commitments and public support are there. The mayors of the 100 C40 cities, especially in the global north, must act boldly and immediately to move our food systems plant-based.

To date, just 14 cities have signed the C40 Good Food Cities Accelerator, including New York City, where healthy plant-based meals are now served by default across the Health+Hospitals system. The city says the healthier meals are being well-received by patients (95 percent satisfaction rate) and about 60% of eligible patients are opting for the plant-based option.

Laura Lee Cascada, Campaigns Director, Better Food Foundation, said,

“Last month, New York City boldly revealed how it’s flipping the script on harmful food norms: serving plant-based foods by default across an entire public institution, its hospitals. As global climate leaders, all C40 cities have a responsibility to model a sustainable food system by following New York, Berkeley, Amsterdam, and other trailblazers with their own plant-based commitments.”

The coalition is calling on all C40 cities attending this triennial meeting in Buenos Aires to:

Implement best practices on plant-based food solutions to the climate emergency.
Sign and take concrete steps to implement the Good Food Cities Declaration, which includes a commitment to support “increased consumption of healthy plant-based foods by shifting away from unsustainable, unhealthy diets.”
Urge cities to join Buenos Aires and 19 municipal governments worldwide in endorsing the Plant Based Treaty as an essential step towards addressing food related emissions.

Allie Molinaro, Campaigns Manager, Compassion in World Farming, said,

“With the renewable energy transition now underway in most major cities, reducing overreliance on animal-sourced food is the next frontier in tackling climate change. If C40 leaders are serious about upholding the Paris Agreement, they must turn their attention toward transitioning to a plant-based food system.”

Anita Krajnc, global campaign coordinator for Plant Based Treaty, said,

“The IPCC consistently shows the vegan diet to be the optimal diet to fight the climate and methane emergencies. Cities play a crucial role in our bottom-up campaign to urge national governments to negotiate a global Plant Based Treaty. C40 cities are considered leaders on local climate action and can accelerate much needed progress by implementing best practices such as serving plant-based food at council events and using every policy tool at their disposal including public information campaigns, procurement, subsidies, investment, divestment, taxation, community gardens, and fruit and vegetable prescription programs.”

Buenos Aires endorsed the Plant Based Treaty on 9th of August 2022. C40 city Los Angeles will vote on a Plant Based Treaty Resolution on October 18, 2022. It was introduced on 6 September 2022 by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

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