Sustainability / Environment

Reports by Plant Based Treaty and FAO Outline Path to Food System Transition Following COP28

As COP28 comes to an end, reports by the Plant Based Treaty and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have outlined how a 1.5°C-aligned food system could be achieved.

The Plant Based Treaty has published a report called Safe and Just, which calls for a “vegan doughnut economics” strategy (adapted from the book Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth) that meets everyone’s needs while staying within social and planetary boundaries. It provides a framework for transitioning to a plant-based food system within the timeframes for net zero, claiming that this could free up three-quarters of agricultural land for rewilding.

Safe and Just also calls for a redirection of subsidies currently given to the meat and dairy industries towards improving the accessibility of plant-based food. Furthermore, it covers the plight of indigenous peoples, who are attempting to defend their land and face violence and killings connected to the agribusiness sector.

“We will not solve this existential problem by focusing on fossil fuels alone”

The report has been endorsed by celebrities including musician and producer Moby, actor Paul Wesley, and Maggie Baird (mother of Billie Eilish and Finneas). It is calling for a “bold action plan” to transition to a plant-based food system before the next Global Stocktake (a process that assesses progress towards the Paris Agreement) at COP30.

“The food system must play a vital role in the solution to the climate crisis. We will not solve this existential problem by focusing on fossil fuels alone. Plant Based Treaty’s new report provides a blueprint for a transition to a just, safe, equitable, and sustainable plant-based food system,” said Maggie Baird.

© Plant Based Treaty

FAO roadmap

Meanwhile, the FAO has published the first iteration of its roadmap to align agri-food systems with 1.5°C and end hunger, with a full report expected to follow in the coming days. It comes after the FAIRR Initiative coordinated a statement signed by investors who represent $18 trillion, calling for a roadmap towards a resilient and sustainable food system.

The initial report outlines ten measurable, timebound targets, covering issues such as crops, soil, and forests. According to FAIRR, there is not yet enough information to assess whether the targets are sufficient; the organization has praised the discussion of methane reduction and shifting subsidies, but notes that the roadmap may not go far enough in protecting nature and biodiversity.

“We will look back at COP28 as the turning point for a seismic shift in agri-food policy and investment in the decade ahead,” said Jeremy Coller, chair and founder of FAIRR. “COP28 started with the Emirates Declaration which commits more than 150 countries to include food and agriculture in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), but it is critically important that this COP ends with food and agriculture being accounted for in the Global Stocktake (GST).”

© Plant Based Treaty

“A just transition”

Food awareness organization ProVeg International has also welcomed the report, but has expressed concerns about some of the proposed strategies.

“We welcome the recognition by the FAO in its Roadmap to 1.5C of the need to change diets for both human and planetary health. However, the Roadmap falls short of highlighting the specific benefits of transitioning towards more healthy, plant-based diets, especially in regions with excessive consumption of animal-based foods,” said Stephanie Maw, Policy Manager at ProVeg International. “The UN’s IPCC and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have clearly stressed the need to shift to more plant-based diets in order to tackle climate change but the FAO has not taken this fully on board.

“In addition, the FAO Roadmap talks of ‘methane reduction technologies’ for livestock, which overlooks key aspects like the availability, scalability, and affordability of these technologies, and fails to recognize the critical need for consumption shifts and livestock herd reduction, as recognized in UNEP’s Global Methane Assessment. Instead, we would like the FAO to consider the adverse impacts of industrial animal agriculture in pushing us across planetary boundaries and to focus on reducing global farmed animal numbers while implementing policies that accelerate a just transition to healthier, more sustainable, plant-based diets.”

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