IPCC report: Plant-based diets are crucial in mitigating climate change

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IPCC report: Plant-based diets are crucial in mitigating climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which reiterates that plant-based diets are necessary to help mitigate climate change before the planet descends into climate chaos, according to global food awareness organization, ProVeg International.

This comes right when the UN published its latest report which indicates that the world is running out of time to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Concentrations of carbon pollution in the atmosphere are at their highest level for more than two million years and the rate of temperature rise over the last half a century is the highest in 2,000 years.

“The IPCC synthesis report highlights the need to shift to more plant-based diets to reduce GHG emissions from the agriculture sector and meet the Paris Agreement of keeping below 1.5C,” Raphaël Podselver, Director of UN Affairs at ProVeg International, said.

The biggest contributor to human-caused planet heating pollution is the burning of fossil fuels, and the food industry has a lot to do with this since food systems generally are responsible for up to one-third of global emissions.

“Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 20% of carbon emissions and only by shifting to more climate-friendly diets - grains, beans, pulses, fruit, vegetables, and alternative proteins - will we reduce these emissions,” Podselver added. 

Even though food systems have a significant effect on global emissions, this was not represented in the latest report, which ProVeg described today as “a missed opportunity” to raise awareness about the effects of diet on the climate. 

"The report mentions the importance of shifting towards more sustainable, balanced plant-rich diets, but direct recommendations from past reports exploring the potential of alternative proteins to immediately mitigate the impact of emissions from food systems were not mentioned in the synthesis,” Podselver said.

The report brings together the thousands of pages of previous reports in this sixth round into summary format, to inform UN policymakers on climate change at this year’s UN climate summit, COP28, taking place in the United Arab Emirates this November. 

IPCC recommends “balanced diets”

Specifically, the IPCC synthesis report notes that “balanced and sustainable healthy diets and reduced food loss and waste present important opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating significant co-benefits in terms of biodiversity and human health.” 

The report notes that “balanced diets” are diets that feature plant-based foods, such as those based on coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and animal-sourced food produced in resilient, sustainable and low-GHG emission systems.

“Unsustainable agricultural expansion, driven in part by unbalanced diets, increases ecosystem and human vulnerability and leads to competition for land and/or water resources,” says the report. 

ProVeg at COP28

ProVeg will be present at this year’s COP28, promoting the importance of plant-rich nutrition for the climate and health. 

“COP28 will, for the first time in history, dedicate a substantial part of its program to food system transformation. This will provide a valuable opportunity for UN policymakers to absorb the messages in this report and formulate policies that can help the world to transition to more plant-based food systems, and as quickly as possible,” Podselver added.

ProVeg was granted Observer Status at the hugely influential IPCC in October 2022. Representatives of Observer Organisations can attend sessions of the IPCC and the plenary sessions of the IPCC Working Groups. 

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