As a self-proclaimed vegan environmentalist, I’m being a fly on the wall of COP24, except that I’m not anywhere near the conference.
But thanks to the internet (and the people currently braving through the harsh Polish winter), I can get the information I need in the comfort of my home in tropical Malaysia.
In the midst of sifting through news, this particular article caught my attention:
Let’s see how environmentally friendly they are.
In accordance with the environmental policy of Poland’s Ministry of Environment, COP24 aims to:
- Promote sustainable transport
- Minimise the use of resources and raw materials
- Print ecologically
- Segregate waste for reuse, sorting and recycling
- Avoid the use of disposable products
- Decorate commercial rooms with reusable materials
- Minimise greenhouse gas emissions with the afforestation of about 700 ha of Poland’s area
That sounds fab.
They covered transportation, material items, natural resources, waste and afforestation.
What about this one other thing that we humans depend on: food?
How’s their catering like? Are they following the footsteps of Germany when hosting COP23 last year by catering “mostly vegetarian food and only certified fish and organic meat”?
Or are they one-upping Germany by offering fully vegan meals?
Via a 2-minute Google search, I’ve found what I wanted to know, thanks to the little birdies of EcoWatch.
Sadly, it’s not what I was hoping for.
Apparently, the main food court is serving twice as many meat-based dishes as plant-based dishes for the conference’s estimated 30,000 visitors during this 12-day conference.
A climate change conference talking about ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperatures to well below 2C is serving a lot of meat.
What a joke!
In case you’re not aware, methane which is a byproduct of animal agriculture has 85 times the global warming potential of CO2. So methane is a large contributor to rising temperatures.
Furthermore, animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.
To put into perspective, the meat-heavy menu at COP24 generates four times the amount of greenhouse gases and requires nine times more land and twice as much water than the plant-based dishes.
Basically, the impact of eating meat is HUGE.
They Want It The Hard Way
The delegates of the conference are racking their brains on how best they could lower carbon emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Fuel price increase and carbon tax have been implemented in countries like France, which sadly have resulted in a riot.
Talks on renewable and clean energy have been going on forever. While many developed countries have managed to adopt the technology as an alternative to coal, many still (especially the developing countries) are slow to switch to renewables mostly due to financial limitations.
Yes, we can’t undermine the impact of fossil fuels on the environment, but we can no longer overlook the impact of animal agriculture on not only greenhouse gas emissions but also land use, deforestation and water consumption.
If we are really serious about reaching the climate goal of 2C or the more ambitious 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, then we should change our lifestyles by going meatless not just on Mondays but every day.
By continuing our current meat consumption habit, we are supporting the global livestock sector that would use up almost half of the greenhouse gas emissions budget allowed by 2030. If this finding doesn’t sway politicians or financial investors, then I don’t know what will.
And if we can’t make the simple enough choice of plant-based foods over meat, then more effort is needed to reduce GHG emissions from other sectors.
I mean, would you do it the easy way or the hard way?
First, Talk About It
While there have been discussions on food security, talks on animal agriculture are scarce.
The numerous scientific reports on the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment need to be discussed on an international platform such as the UNFCCC and the solutions to gradually reduce such practice need to be included in the Paris Agreement rulebook.
Then, Walk the Talk
The bottom-up approach of us citizens refusing meat does work but it only means a slow progress.
With the urgency of fighting climate change, and with the scientific facts already presented, world leaders need to actively advocate for a vegan diet. I understand that politicians may be afraid of offending the people, what with food being an emotional and habitual practice, but we are practically at war with climate change and so this desperate time calls for desperate measures.
Call to Action
I know that many who are at COP24 or are following the progress of the climate change talks, or even those who enjoy the company of nature, may call themselves environmentalists.
In addition to the practices of conservation, eliminating plastic consumption and reducing waste, I beseech the so-called environmentalists, as well as anyone with rational minds and love for Mother Nature, to also adopt a vegan diet immediately.