UN initiative urges wealthy nations to cut meat consumption for climate health

The U.N.'s proposal, while not mandatory and lacking detailed policy guidelines, outlines general areas for countries to focus on in order to achieve a "rebalancing" of resources. This includes aspects such as meat consumption, the reduction of food waste, and the use of fertilizers.

UN initiative urges wealthy nations to cut meat consumption for climate health
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A recent United Nations initiative proposes that wealthier countries should reduce their meat consumption while simultaneously enhancing access to these foods for poorer nations. This strategy aims to address concerns related to climate change.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has, for the first time, published a comprehensive plan for global food systems, emphasizing key sectors for emission reduction in agriculture. This global organization recommends that affluent countries could gain from lessening their intake of foods derived from animals, whereas less wealthy countries could profit from better availability of such foods.

The U.N.'s proposal, though not mandatory and lacking detailed policy guidelines, outlines general areas for countries to concentrate on in order to achieve a "rebalancing" of resources. This includes aspects like meat consumption, reduction of food waste, and the use of fertilizers. The plan emphasizes the goal of achieving a more equitable distribution of resources, ensuring that developed and developing nations are not in opposition to each other.

“Global rebalancing isn’t about boosting production in unproductive places but shifting it to regions” in areas that offer the highest efficiency or with “large potential,” the plan stated.

The proposal explicitly states that it does not aim to prescribe particular diets, but rather to uphold guidelines for maintaining healthy eating habits.

This initiative by the FAO represents an attempt to harmonize the goal of eradicating hunger by 2030 with the objective of keeping global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This plan was unveiled at the 2023 U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, which is the most significant global climate summit and took place in Dubai.

This conference sets itself apart from its predecessors by centering on the food sector, which has previously been slower in making commitments and taking action to reduce emissions. Notably, food systems contribute to roughly a third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan outlines strategies across 10 key areas: livestock management, promoting healthy diets, minimizing food loss and waste, effective utilization of soil and water resources, crop production, conservation of forests and wetlands, adoption of clean energy, and sustainable practices in fisheries and aquaculture. Specific targets include a 25% reduction in emissions from livestock by 2030, relative to 2020 levels, and a global annual increase in total factor productivity by 1.7%.

Additionally, the plan sets an ambitious goal to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels. It also mandates the repurposing of all food loss and waste for animal feed, soil improvement, or bioenergy production.

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