The Plant-Based Treaty: Putting food systems at the heart of the climate crisis fight

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This year, as a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, the Plant Based Treaty was developed as a landmark international treaty to put food systems at the heart of combatting the climate crisis. Modeled on the popular Fossil Fuel Treaty, the Plant Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture, promote a shift to more healthy, sustainable plant-based diets, and reverse damage done to planetary functions, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Scientists, individuals, groups, businesses and cities are urged to endorse this call to action and put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty to address and mitigate the core causes of climate change. We at Vejii have signed the treaty and believe in what it stands for.

Animal agriculture is a major contributor to the climate crisis

There’s no denying it: we have a climate, ocean and biodiversity crisis. Fossil fuels and animal agriculture are the driving force behind global warming and biodiversity loss, large-scale deforestation, species extinction, water depletion, soil degradation, and ocean dead zones.

Addressing fossil fuels alone is not enough; we need action on food systems too. That’s where the Plant Based Treaty comes in. The three main greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide—are at record levels and rapidly accelerating. Animal agriculture contributes to all three but is the main driver of global methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

Scientists warned in the IPCC sixth assessment that we need to cut methane emissions or face collapse. Lead reviewer Durwood Zaelke said methane reductions were probably the only way of preventing temperature rises of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, otherwise extreme weather will increase and several planetary tipping points could be triggered, from which there is no coming back. Zaelke points out, “Cutting methane is the biggest opportunity to slow warming between now and 2040. We need to face this emergency.”

In short, the three greenhouse gases must be tackled urgently and with equal measure. Plant-based and renewable energy solutions that can mitigate this disaster are within our grasp—we just need to implement them.

The Plant Based Treaty brings together everyone in various sectors of society under one agreement to address the escalating climate crisis. The Paris Climate Agreement is silent on animal agriculture, despite it being a critical contributor to global warming and an essential part of meeting climate goals.

Overwhelming scientific evidence

The Paris Agreement leaves it to countries, businesses and individuals to make changes, but transformative changes to our food system have been largely ignored and at times even resisted at the government level. 

The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates the calamitous impact of animal agriculture on our planetary boundaries and points to a plant-based food revolution as an essential solution. According to ProVeg International and prominent scientists from a range of academic and research institutions, it will be impossible for any government to meet the goals set under the Paris Agreement without a major shift towards plant-based diets, even if current fossil fuel emissions are completely halted.

Why a Plant Based Treaty?

Like the Paris Agreement, the Plant Based Treaty recognizes no one single country can tackle the ecological impact of animal agriculture by itself. A global solution to a global emergency is essential to avert a climate catastrophe.

Through both individual and system change, communities, business and government can work together at all levels.

Adopting a vegan diet is the single biggest action a person can take for the planet and the IPCC agrees that a shift towards plant-based diets can significantly reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions. An Oxford University study calculated that large changes in the food system would be necessary. That is, everyone must adopt a plant-based diet on a global scale, to reduce food emissions as much as 70 percent.

This is why at Vejii, we offer over 3000 products to make it as easy as possible for customers to shift to a plant-based diet and a vegan lifestyle.

Beyond emissions

The Plant Based Treaty offers meaningful solutions and a solid pathway to reduce our planetary impact. With a legally binding commitment to the three R’s: Relinquish, Redirect and Restore, nations can meet and exceed their emission reduction targets and absorb the excess carbon from the atmosphere through rewilding and reforestation, bringing us to safe levels. In addition, a Plant Based Treaty will positively impact on multiple other areas of concern, such as:

  • Methane and nitrous oxide levels
  • Deforestation and land use change
  • Species extinction and biodiversity loss
  • Water and air pollution
  • Eutrophication
  • Ocean dead zones, acidification and coral bleaching
  • Risk of zoonotic disease and pandemics
  • Public health and well-being 
  • Food deserts and accessibility 
  • Protection of indigenous communities

A shift towards a plant-based food system positively impacts on more planetary boundaries than any other climate solution.

The time is now

The inaugural global stocktake of the Paris Agreement is taking place from 2021 to 2023 and will assess the world’s collective progress. The process will be repeated every five years.

The conclusions of the stocktake will not be policy-prescriptive and will consist of recommendations, best practices, new opportunities and lessons learned. 

Therein lies an opportunity for the Plant Based Treaty to be included in those recommendations. If we build momentum and create enough bottom up pressure from the public, scientists, businesses and municipal governments, we can shape policies and help set the pace of reform. It’s time to make some noise!

How do we build momentum and pressure?

The existential threat we face is of grave concern, but there is still time to turn the ship around. But we must act now and act fast. 

And that’s where you come in! Whether you’re acting alone or as part of a climate action group, school, hospital, business, or city, you can be part of a growing movement forging change and helping build a brighter future for generations to come.

Join Vejii in endorsing the Plant Based Treaty if you haven’t already. Then tell your friends, family and colleagues to jump on board. 

Visit the treaty’s campaign hub to get active, make a donation, and subscribe to their newsletter for action alerts and updates. 

A plant-based diet is the most impactful action you can take to save the planet, and we encourage you to seek support. If you want to do more, check out the Plant Based Treaty’s guide to reducing your carbon footprint.

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