Don’t know what the Plant Treaty is? It’s okay. I only recently learned about it, too!

It’s an incredibly important initiative that sets ambitious goals to slow the environmental degradation of our planet and the warming of the climate that is caused by our diet, specifically the raising of billions of animals for meat.

FACT: We kill and consume about 80 billion animals every year. That’s 10 times the number of humans on our planet. Providing food and water for such a humongous number of animals has to have an impact.

Most people are aware that fossil fuels affect global warming and environmental degradation.

However, few people realize that animal agriculture also has a negative impact – and perhaps even more so!

Animal agriculture is a major contributor to the climate crisis

There is a climate, ocean and biodiversity crisis. Fossil fuels and animal agriculture are the driving force behind runaway global warming as well as extensive biodiversity loss, large-scale deforestation, species extinction, water depletion, soil degradation and ocean dead zones.

Why Plant Based Treaty?

As a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, The Plant Based Treaty initiative is a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combating 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 and to promote a shift to healthier, sustainable plant-based diets. We are urging scientists, individuals, groups, businesses and cities to endorse this call to action and put pressure on national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty.

Addressing fossil fuels alone is simply 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 methane and nitrous oxide emissions globally.

Animal agriculture is driving Indigenous land theft in the Amazon; subjecting racially and ethnically marginalized communities to disproportionate amounts of toxic waste from factory farms and slaughterhouses as well as exposing workers to toxic chemicals, hazardous working conditions and severe trauma.

Scientists warned in the IPCC sixth assessment that we need to cut methane or face collapse. Lead reviewer Durwood Zaelke said methane reductions were probably the only way of preventing temperature rises of 1.5C 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 that “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 both urgently and with equal measure. Plant-based and soft energy solutions that can mitigate this disaster are within our grasp — we just need to implement them.

Business as usual is not an option

We urgently need to act on the available science, bringing together all actors from various sectors of society under one agreement, which will actively address the escalating climate crisis.

There has never been a more urgent need for a Plant Based Treaty. 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. As the independent policy institute Chatham House observed in their 2014 report, ‘shifting global demand for meat and dairy produce is central to achieving climate goals.’ This position is strongly supported by scientists around the world, including Oxford University researcher Michael Clark, who points out that ‘even if fossil fuel emissions stop immediately, emissions from our food systems alone could increase global temperatures by more than 1.5C’.