Livestock & Meat Pledge
Global Livestock and Meat Pledge 2022
Powerful action to reduce methane emissions and deforestation by decreasing consumption of meat and dairy in UN Member States, to keep a 1.5°C future within reach
Draft Pledge to be signed by UN Member States during COP27 in Egypt in 2022. Countries who consider to sign, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Pledge
Meat and dairy production causes almost 60% of global food-related climate pollutants: methane, nitrogen dioxide and CO2. The goal of this Pledge is that consumers in 85 countries on average eat according to EAT-Lancet dietary guidelines by 2030. By doing so, global food-related GHG-emissions would be reduced by 42 percent: 1,8 Gton CO2e (giga tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent), mostly through reduced red meat consumption and higher intake of plant based proteins. If 85 countries would implement policies encouraging consumers to eat conforming to WHO food recommendations, global GHG-emissions would be reduced by 0,52 Gton CO2. (Springmann, 2020 https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m2322)
Rapidly reducing methane and other GHG-emissions from meat and dairy consumption can achieve near-term gains this decade in our efforts towards decisive action and is regarded as one of the most effective strategies to keep within reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5˚C while yielding additional benefits, including improving public health, reducing health care costs, and contributing to SGD-goals for biodiversity, water and hunger.
President XX and President XX announced at the 2022 XX meeting that the countries XX and XX are inviting countries to support the Global Livestock and Meat Pledge to be launched at COP 27 in November 2022 in Egypt. Participants joining the Pledge agree to take voluntary actions to contribute to a collective effort to reduce meat consumption or production levels by at least 30 percent of 2020 levels by 2030, which could eliminate nearly 0.2˚C warming by 2050. Participants also commit to move towards implementing the healthy food recommendations of WHO and EAT Lancet, and the policy recommendations of the UN Food System Summit scientific group on true pricing of food*), and to use financial and fiscal instruments, regulations, public procurement and public information to achieve these goals.
Parties also commit to provide greater transparency on GHG-emissions from the retail and food sectors, with clear goals for reduction in these sectors of 30% of food related GHG-emissions by 2030 and for dietary changes towards more plant-based food. They commit to banning the sale of meat at prices lower than the normal retail cost price and to move towards banning commercials for meat and other food products outside national dietary health guidelines, as such commercials can jeopardize the goals of this pledge of 1,8 Gton CO2e. reduction.
The Pledge aims to catalyze global action and strengthen support for existing (inter)national meat reduction initiatives advancing technical and policy work that will serve to underpin Participants’ domestic actions. The Pledge also recognizes the essential roles that the retail sector, banks, the health sector, financial institutions, municipalities and philanthropy play in supporting implementation of the Pledge and welcomes their efforts and engagement.
With over XX countries on board, representing nearly XX% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions and over XX of global GDP, we are well on our way to achieving the Pledge goal and preventing 1,8 gigaton of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from reaching the atmosphere annually by 2030. We will convene annual ministerial level meetings to review progress following the launch of the Global Methane Pledge in November 2022.
In 2021 at the COP26 over 100 countries signed the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions with 30 percent by 2030 https://www.globalmethanepledge.org/ and the Zero Deforestation Plegde for 2030 https://ukcop26.org/glasgow-leaders-declaration-on-forests-and-land-use/. 42 percent of global methane emissions is from livestock. According to WWF meat and dairy are a major driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss because of the increasing land use needed for animal feed and more livestock. https://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/summer-2018/articles/what-are-the-biggest-drivers-of-tropical-deforestation, https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/appetitefordestruction. Global meat consumption and production is expected to grow 14% from 2020 to 2030. https://www.fao.org/3/CB5332EN/Meat.pdf. This means: 14% more animal feed is needed too, which often means more forests are cut to produce more soy or other animal feed.
In 2022, a group of UN member states can also sign the Global Livestock and Meat Pledge, to reduce meat consumption in 50-85 countries with highest per capita meat consumption levels. A list of 50 countries with the highest meat consumption per capita levels can be found here: https://futurefoodprice.org/open-letter. By signing the Global Livestock and Meat Pledge UN member states can also reduce meat consumption related deforestation and methane emissions. Global policies aiming for a ‘healthy diet’ or a ‘flexitarian diet’, to replace 75 percent of meat and dairy by plant based diets have a mitigation potential of 4,5 to 5 Gton CO2 eq/year by 2050 (IPCC, 2018). Such diets are consistent with the 1,5 °C scenario and are needed before 2030 to reduce the ambition gap of 19-23 GtCO2 eq (see picture below).
Meat and dairy account for 57 percent of food production related GHG-emissions, an Illinois University study found: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/13/meat-greenhouses-gases-food-production-study. In the EU-27, 82 percent of food related GHG-emissions is from meat, dairy and eggs, according to a report of the EU Court of Auditors:
Global GHG-emissions taxes on meat (e.g. 0,28 USD/100 gram beef) have a mitigation potential of 0,67 GtonCO2eq (Oxford University study https://www.tappcoalition.eu/images/COP25-presentation-Marco-Springmann-1578609512.pdf). According to another report, meat taxes at EU level can reduce 3 percent of EU GHG-emissions: 120 Mton CO2eq/year https://cedelft.eu/publications/a-sustainability-charge-on-meat/. Similar taxes in the USA or China will have similar effects to reduce 3 percent of all national GHG-emissions. This is more than all GHG emissions from aviation.
Overconsumption of meat is leading to increased risks for non-communicable diseases like stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and higher risks for obesity. To reduce such risks and reduce healthcare costs related to unhealthy diets, WHO and World Bank advised all nations to tax unhealthy food products like sugar and processed meat. https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws/13251/world-bank-asks-governments-to-introduce-taxes-on-unhealthy-food-like-processed-meat
Around 50 countries now have implemented ‘sugar taxes’ on beverages. https://www.obesityevidencehub.org.au/collections/prevention/countries-that-have-implemented-taxes-on-sugar-sweetened-beverages-ssbs and 7 countries (and the EU) have implemented taxes on meat or consider it: https://tappcoalition.eu/nieuws/16831/increasing-number-of-countries-start-taxing-meat-and-dairy-
In 2018, the IPCC special report on climate change and land was published, indicating about 21–37% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributable to the food system. https://www.ipcc.ch/srccl/chapter/chapter-5/
The report also wrote: “Consumption of healthy and sustainable diets presents major opportunities for reducing GHG emissions from food systems and improving health outcomes (high confidence). Examples of healthy and sustainable diets are high in coarse grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. Total technical mitigation potential of dietary changes is estimated as 0.7–8.0 GtCO2-eq per year by 2050 (medium confidence”. The graphic below shows the technical mitigatin potential of different dietary changes, with a mitigation potential for flexitarian diets of 5.1 GtCO2-eq per year by 20250 (and 4.5 GtCO2-eq reduction for the healthy diet):
The analysis comes from a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an independent research group made up of the world’s leading climate scientists. The report defines the different diets referenced in the chart above as follows:
o Vegan: a completely plant-based diet.
o Vegetarian: a diet of grains, vegetables, fruits, sugars, oils, eggs and dairy and around one serving of meat or seafood per month.
o Flexitarian: a diet in which 75% of meat and dairy is replaced by cereals and pulses. (This includes at least 500g of fruit and vegetables and at least 100g of plant-based protein per day – and no more than one portion of red meat a week.)
o Healthy diet: a diet based on global dietary guidelines, which involves eating less meat and more fruit and vegetables.
o Fair and frugal: a diet assuming food is shared equally across the world with each person consuming 2800 calories a day. (This involves a relatively low level of animal products.)
o Pescetarian: a vegetarian diet that includes seafood.
o Climate carnivore: a diet where 75% of red meat is replaced with other meat.
o Mediterranean: a diet of vegetables, fruits, grains, sugars, oils, eggs, dairy, seafood and moderate amounts of poultry, pork, lamb and beef.
In the IPCC’s special report on climate change and land, the team of scientists analysed recently published scientific papers that look into how these different diets could help to stem greenhouse emissions.
The chart above displays the total amount of greenhouse gases that could be saved each year by 2050 if the world were to adopt each of these diets, when compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario for 2050. (The “business-as-usual” scenario is based on projections of continued population growth and rising meat intake from the FAO.)
(The chart shows the savings in terms of millions of tonnes of CO2 equivalent [CO2e] – a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases.)
Savings come both from ridding the world of the greenhouse emissions associated with livestock production (see: How do emissions from meat, dairy and other foods compare?) and also from sparing land that would otherwise be needed for livestock rearing.
The analysis shows that a global switch to eating less meat (flexitarian diet) would deliver large emissions savings out of any dietary shift, without becoming vegan or vegetarian.
According to the analysis, a switch to flexitarian could save more than 5bn tonnes of CO2e a year by 2050, when compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario. (By comparison, all food production currently causes around 13.7 bn tonnes of CO2e a year.)
The steep reduction in emissions would partially stem from the freeing up of large amounts of land, which could be used to plant forests capable of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.