UN Climate Gurus: Say Goodbye to Burgers, Brisket & Steak


NEW YORK – The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a primary agency overseeing food and agriculture policy, is set to unveil a global food systems’ road map at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, commencing Thursday and spanning nearly two weeks until mid-December. Expected in the upcoming weeks, this road map will urge Western nations, including the United States, to significantly curtail their meat consumption, according to reports by Bloomberg.

This pioneering document from FAO is anticipated to propose measures for nations identified as "over-consuming meat" to limit their intake, forming part of a wider initiative to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Jeremy Coller, chair and founder of the FAIRR Initiative, an investor network advocating for climate-friendly agriculture, emphasized the urgency of focusing on the food and agriculture sector, citing its substantial contribution of approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and 40% of methane. He stressed the hope among investors for this unprecedented FAO publication at COP28 to drive the transition towards a 1.5-degree trajectory and a more sustainable food system.

Alongside advocating reduced meat consumption in the West, FAO's roadmap is expected to address strategies for farmers to adapt to volatile weather patterns and address emissions stemming from food waste and fertilizer usage, as per Bloomberg. These recommendations, potentially endorsed by the U.S. COP28 delegation, are not binding.

The comprehensive roadmap aims to shape policies that mitigate the global agriculture industry's climate impact, an area traditionally receiving limited attention during previous UN climate conferences. While past COP summits predominantly tackled emissions from the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, FAO's upcoming roadmap signifies a shift toward addressing agriculture's role in climate change.

Kaveh Zahedi, director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, highlighted existing solutions such as agroforestry, soil restoration, sustainable livestock management, and fisheries as avenues that not only combat climate change but also support biodiversity and food security. He emphasized the manifold benefits these solutions offer uniquely within agriculture and food systems.

For years, the UN has urged individuals to opt for plant-based diets, citing their lower environmental impact compared to animal-based diets. The UN suggests that choosing plant-based foods could potentially reduce an individual's annual carbon footprint by up to 2.1 tons.

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