Edinburgh endorses calls for Plant Based Treaty

The City of Edinburgh Council has endorsed the Plant Based Treaty, making it the first capital city in Scotland and the first in all of Europe to do so. The initiative seeks to reduce emissions from animal agriculture related to food while also addressing deforestation, a major factor in the current climate emergency.

Edinburgh report states “Meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets” as the council writes to the First Minister inviting Scotland to enter into a Plant Based Treaty.

Twenty municipal governments around the world, including Los Angeles and Haywards Heath, support the proposed treaty.

Campaigners for climate action are urging other towns and cities to take Edinburgh's example and contribute to the development of a national council-led movement that calls for a shift toward healthier, more sustainable plant-based diets.

The Plant Based Treaty was first presented to the Full Council in March 2022 by Green Councillor Steve Burgess. At that meeting, the council unanimously agreed to produce an impact assessment on the potential effects of endorsing the Plant Based Treaty.

According to Burgess, the Edinburgh council now has a great opportunity to promote a lot more plant-based eating.

"By declaring our endorsement, we are acknowledging that food systems are a main driver of the climate emergency and that a shift towards plant-based diets can go a huge way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Plant-rich diets, according to Burgess, are also a "win-win-win" for society because they have a smaller impact on the environment, provide significant health benefits, and have a smaller negative impact on animal welfare.

The impact assessment report was presented at the Policy and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, following its publication on Friday, January 13, 2023.

According to a report copied to JoyNews' Mahmud Mohammed-Nurudeen, diets high in plant protein and low in meat and dairy result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, switching to a plant-based diet has a significant potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Diets high in plant protein and low in meat and dairy make for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and that consequently, shifting consumption towards plant-based diets has a major mitigation potential,” and states, “Overall, the science is clear, meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets.”

According to the report, 23% of Edinburgh's consumption-based footprint is accounted for by food and diet, with 12% of these emissions coming from the consumption of meat.

According to the report, switching to a plant-based diet would significantly lower the city's consumption-based emissions.

It cites a 2019 report from the C40 network that identified food as the main driver of emissions from urban consumption and noted that switching to a plant-based diet presents the greatest opportunity to reduce emissions in cities.

During the committee meeting, the Green Group presented a number of amendments to the report, including: ratification of the Plant Based Treaty requesting that the Council Leader inform the First Minister, the appropriate Cabinet Secretary, and the relevant Ministers in a letter that they receive that the Council has approved the Treaty and has urged the Scottish Government to do the same.
They are also requesting a timeline and action plan for any potential modifications to Council activities after the treaty is approved

The Greens, Labour, and Scottish National Party all voted in favor of the amendment, which was approved 12 to 5 overall.

Burgess said, “Green councillors very much welcome the decision by Edinburgh council to endorse the Plant Based Treaty as we proposed. Edinburgh council’s leader will now be writing to the First Minister of Scotland to encourage the Scottish Government to also express support for a Plant Based Treaty to be negotiated at a global level.”

According to Nicola Harris, communications director at Plant Based Treaty, Edinburgh has lived up to its reputation as a global climate leader by acknowledging the crucial need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the food system to achieve our climate targets,

"Promoting plant-based food across Edinburgh will help residents make informed choices that are better for the planet, personal health and animal protection,” he said.

By requesting that their local council members support the Plant Based Treaty and putting forth a motion for their town, city, or county to endorse, according to Harris, anyone can join the movement.

"By developing plant-based food strategies to address consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions we can make great inroads in delivering the emissions cuts needed this decade to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.”

The Plant Based Treaty has been signed by more than 240 council members from more than 60 UK towns and cities, representing a variety of political affiliations, including the Conservatives, Green Party, Labour, and Liberal Democrats.

Early Day Motion 434 was backed by 20 UK lawmakers, including David Linden, Chris Stephens, and Dr. Lisa Cameron of the Scottish National Party.

The motion supports the Plant Based Treaty and calls on the UK to take the lead in recognising the negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture on climate change and to commit to creating a global strategy to move toward more sustainable plant-based food systems.

The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Edinburgh ratified in March 2022, served as a model for the Plant Based Treaty, which was also influenced by treaties that addressed the threats posed by nuclear weapons and ozone layer depletion.

Over 70,000 individuals have supported the initiative since its inception in August 2021, in addition to five Nobel laureates, IPCC scientists, more than 1000 NGOs, community organizations, and businesses, such as Ecotricity, Linda McCartney Foods, Oceanic Preservation Society, Environmental Alliance Project, VIVA!, BOSH!, Animal Rebellion, and local Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Extinction Rebellion chapters.

Celebrities have publicly endorsed the Plant Based Treaty, including Paul, Mary, and Stella McCartney, who issued a written statement urging politicians to back the treaty.

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