Leaders' Pledge for Sustainable Food

Leaders' Pledge for Sustainable Food

Please sign before or at COP27 in Egypt, 7-18 November, 2022.

The April 2022 IPCC report found food systems responsible for 23-42 percent of global greenhouse gass emissions. Even if all fossil fuel emissions were eliminated, food system emissions would jeopardize the 1.5 degrees C target. The report urgently called on  UN countries to enact food and agriculture policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support a shift to plant-based diets. The IPPC report also mentioned the importance of food related GHG-emisssion taxes and lifestyle changes to eat less meat.  

Signatories to the Pledge agree to contribute to a collective effort to reduce food related emissions 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030, which could eliminate over 0.2˚C warming by 2050. 

If you would like to sign the Leaders' Pledge for Sustainable Food (UN Member State), you can do so by clicking here

The Leaders’ Pledge is open to further endorsements by Non State actors (business, civil society, financial institutes, local/regional governments, UN organisations, health sector).
To endorse the pledge, please contact the core group at sustainablefoodpledge@gmail.com if your are a Non State Actor. 

UN Member State Signatories commit to:

A. Taking at least two action on Food and two on Farming, and

B. Participating in annual virtual meetings to share progress and monitor reports

Food 

1. Establish national reduction goals for meat consumption. 
2. Start education campaigns on the environmental and health benefits of plant-predominant diets. This could include a requirement that supermarkets display sustainability ratings of food purchases, or display true pricing data incl. CO2-costs.
3. Eliminate consumer taxes on vegetables and fruits and/or subsidize healthy food
4. Reduce public procurement of animal-based products, promote institutional plant-forward eating (eg by supporting Cool Food initiatives) or serve climate neutral food products in public bodies.
5. Implement bans for selling meat at prices lower than normal retail cost prices.
6. Tax consumers on meat and/or dairy purchases to reflect externalized environmental costs and public health costs of these products, or to finance farmers by food tax revenues.

7. Legislation for supermarkets/retail to reduce food related GHG-emissions with 50% by 2030 (scope 3 emissions)

Farming

1. Offer financial incentives to animal farmers to reduce their herd sizes (earning more with less livestock).
2. Offer financial incentives and resources to farmers to reduce GHG-emissions, or transition from growing animals and/or their feed to cultivating plant-based crops for human consumption, or transition to organic (dairy) farming.
3. Legislate, monitor, and enforce maximum methane emissions from farms. 
4. Ban importation of products derived from destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
5.  Apply the pollution pays principle on GHG emissions at the farm level or import.

Sign on to the Pledge here and select your country commitments.

Which countries fit within these criteria?

We already analyzed policies for 9 countries (Germany, Netherlands, China, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Italy, that comply with 2 Food and 2 Farm related actions, see countries and their references below:

GERMANY

Germany Food 6
German Coalition Agreement 2021: Investment plan to improve animal welfare, involving all links in the chain in its financing, incl. consumers. End junk prices for meat/food, include external costs:  German agriculture minister says end of ‘junk prices for food’ will protect animals and climate, read more about Germany's plans here
 
Germany Food 5
A law (Gesetz Gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen) prohibits businesses “with superior market power in relation to small and 2 medium-sized competitors” from pricing below cost”. Read article here 

Germany Farm 2
The new German government agreements mentioned incentives for (organic) dairy farms, restructuring agriculture subsidies to reduce GHG emissions and starting policies to reduce livestock numbers, linked to available land. Read more here: New German coalition plans mandatory animal welfare label restructuring of farm subsidies and  German Government agrees farming subsidies distribution adds more eco-schemes and Agriculture Climate Change Mitigation
 
Germany Farm 3
Germany signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction by 2030. This will lead to new legislation, closer monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. In the Government agreement of 2021, the aim of reducing methane emissions from farms was explicitly mentioned.

THE NETHERLANDS

Netherlands Food 6
The agriculture minister financed pilot projects for catering and retail where consumers pay the true price of food including environmental costs. True Price – From Insight to Action and True Price Store in Amsterdam 
 
Netherlands Food 3
The Dutch government announced to apply a 0% VAT tariff on vegetables and fruits in its Coalition Agreement December 2021. Read more here: The Dutch 2025 Coalition Agreement
 
Netherlands Farm 1
The Netherlands wants to reduce livestock numbers by approximately 30% to reduce nitrogen and GHG-emissions, with 25 billion euro 2022-2030. Read more here: The Dutch Government announces 25 billion plan to radically reduce livestock numbers and Cattle Herds in the Netherlands to be cut by 30% over the next decade to meet Nitrogen Targets
 
Netherlands Farm 3
The Netherlands signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. See The Global Methane Pledge. The Dutch government Coalition Agreement announced to reduce livestock numbers (25 billion euro available till 2030). The Climate agreement for agriculture has reduction goals and will also help to reduce methane emissions.
 
Netherlands Farm 4
The EU Commission will ban food products related to deforestation The EU announces ban on commodities, including a beef and coffee import ban due to forest endangerment

CHINA

China Food 1
In 2016 China developed new dietary guidelines aiming to reduce meat consumption with 50% by 2030. See more at China’s meat consumption and climate change and Planting a Plant-Based Future in China.
 
China Food 2
The Chinese Government has established the first voluntary industry standard for plant-based meat alternatives, marking a significant step for the emerging plant-based protein sector in the Chinese market. Shirley Lu, managing director of ProVeg Asia, said: “First, it establishes the naming of plant-based “meat”.  Second, it specifically prohibits any use of animal-based oil and ingredients to ensure the integrity of the products.” Read more about the transition here: China Establishes Its First Voluntary Standard For Plant-Based Meat Products

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also has promoted the lab-grown meat industry with the release of its official five-year agricultural plan (pdf in Chinese) on Jan. 26. For the first time, China included cultivated meats and other “future foods” like plant-based eggs as part of its blueprint for food security going forward. Read more about China’s move towards plant-based ‘future foods’ here: China’s New 5-Year Plan is a Blueprint for the Future of Meat 

China Farm 2

China is subsidizing farmers to reduce fertilizer use, while using more organic compost and improving the soil to sequester carbon: https://chinadialogue.net/en/food/how-can-china-cut-emissions-from-its-farms/

China Farm 2

China is subsidizing organic farmers. These measures are unparalleled around the world. They range from covering the cost of organic certification, to finding land, funding on-farm infrastructure and organic fertilizers, to training and marketing assistance.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand Farm 2
New Zealand proposes to price agricultural GHG emissions from 2025 and pay farmers who reduce emissions,: New Zealand proposes to price agricultural emissions from 2025 , while the country also passed legislation, which finalised the ETS reform

New Zealand Farm 3
New Zealand signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. See The Global Methane Pledge.
 
New Zealand Food 2
The New Zealand government started a school campaign for recuding meat and dairy consumption to reduce GHG-emissions: Read more about the Reuters article here

New Zealand Food 3
New Zealand introduced programmes in schools which subsidise vegetables and fruits for lower income groups. Read more about the Fruit in Schools Programme and the Governments efforts to secure New Zealander's access to affordable and healthy food

UNITED KINGDOM

UK Food 1
The UK National Food Strategy mentioned a goal of 30% reduction of meat consumption by 2030. Read more about this objective here.  

UK Food 5
The UK will ban low prices and advertisements for unhealthy food products including different dairy and meat products (category 15) from October 2022:  New regulation against low prices and advertisements for unhealthy food products. 

UK Farm 5
A Carbon border tax is likely to be introduced on meat and dairy in the UK after 2025. Read article here. During the COP 26 Climate Summit, UK minister of Environment announced a carbon tax on meat and dairy.  Read article here. 

UK Farm 3
The UK signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. The UK has also launched Britain’s Climate Change Act, containing the world’s first legally binding national commitment to cut GHG emissions, including agriculture which will be subject to an ETS regulatory framework. Read article here.
 

SWEDEN 

Sweden Food 1
Sweden announced to also include consumer based GHG-emissions reduction goals (including from imported products) into climate policies in addition to production based GHG-emissions. In this way plant-based low footprint diets (less meat) and other consumption changes will be encouraged. Sweden is about to become the first country in the world to report on carbon-based emissions and Sweden expands its climate goals

Sweden Food 2
More schools are cutting down on meat in school meals in an effort to help curb greenhouse gas emissions and boost students' health. By law school lunches only have to be free and nutritious, but the National Swedish Food Agency published guidelines in April urging schools to serve up more vegetables, while cutting down on meat centred meals.  Read more about the transition to plant-based meals in Swedish schools here: The schools where meat is off the menu for climate reasons
 
Sweden Farm 3
Sweden signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. 

Sweden Farm 2
Conversion subsidies are being offered to Swedish farmers who look to employ biodiversity-enhancing practices on their farms, as well as those willing to convert to organic. Read article here

BELGIUM  

Belgium Food 2
As supported by the Belgian Government, Meat-Free Thursdays have become the norm in the city of Ghent, Belgium. Ghent promotes a meat-free day each week in order to achieve a range of objectives: meeting climate emissions goals; improving health; reducing overall environmental impacts; improved animal welfare; and sustainable consumption. After Ghent launched its meat-free day in 2009, it has been copied by cities worldwide, e.g. Hasselt (Belgium), Bremen (Germany), Helsinki, San Francisco, Cape Town, and Sao Paulo. Ghent aims to be climate neutral by 2050, all urban activities combined. Read more about this new initiative here: Ghent meat-free Thursdays
 
Belgium Food 1
The Belgian Government has advised citizens to decrease their red meat consumption. The Belgian Superior Health Council, a scientific advisory body of the government, has recommended citizens to reduce their red-meat consumption, while increasing their fruit and vegetable intake. Read more about this advice here: Belgian government promotes reduced meat consumption 

Belgium Farm 3
Belgium signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. In the Government agreement in 2021 reduction of methane emissions from farms was mentioned.
 
Belgium Farm 1
The Belgium government is offering financial incentives to 60 large livestock farmers to stop production by 2025. Read more about what the Government in offering here.  

DENMARK

Denmark Food 1
Almost a third of Danes have cut down on their meat consumption levels, with the Government advocating for lower meat intake as a healthier option across Denmark. Read article here. Additionally, the Danish government announced in 2021 that it plans on spending 195 million dollars in order to boost plant-based production and encourage greater consumption of plant-based proteins. Read article here
 
Denmark Food 2
The Danish government has begun discussing proposals that would require food manufacturers and supermarkets to put labels on products based on their environmental impact. It has been reported that the initiative is supported by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, which recognizes that the move would potentially serve as an opportunity to promote best farming practices in order to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Read more about it here: Denmark’s Agriculture and Food Council Considers Labels Ranking Food’s Impact on the Climate.

Denmark Farm 5 

Denmark has proposed a CO2 tax by 2023 for all sectors, including agriculture. Read article here: Denmark raises CO2 taxes. 

Denmark Farm 3

Denmark signed the Global Methane Pledge for 30% emission reduction in 2030. This will lead to legislation, monitoring, and enforcement of maximum methane emissions from farms. 

 
ITALY

Italy Food 2
Roberto Cingolani, Italy’s Minister for the Ecological Transition, outlined an ambitious aim for Italy in becoming a leader of the sustainable transition. Moreover, the Minister stated that ‘the amount of animal protein consumed should be decreased and replaced with plant-based alternatives’’. His appointment to this role is hoped to sustain the transition. Read more about the Minister's ambitious aim here

Italy Food 3
Italy’s progressive VAT tariffs means that Italian’s enjoy a 4% rate on fruits and vegetables, as well as cereals and grains, while the standard VAT remains at 22% for other goods. While animal products do remain in a lower rate (7-8%), Italy’s recognition that different goods should apply different VAT tariffs makes it a good example for other Member States. Read more here: Taxation in Agriculture - Italy

Italy Farm 3
By signing the Global Methane Pledge, Italy hopes to reduce its’ methane levels considerably, with the collective goal being to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. Read more about the pledge here: Launch by US, EU, and Partners of the Global Methane Pledge

Italy Farm  2
Italy’s promotion of young people in farming has resulted in Italy recording the highest number of farmers under the age of 35 within the EU. Investigation into this phenomenon shows that younger farmers put a greater focus on environmental protection, with a large portion of these farmers favouring organic production. In response, more funding has been provided by the Italian government to support those entering the agricultural sector, continuing traditions in a sustainable, environmentally conscious manner.  Read more here: Europe’s New Farmers
 

ABOUT THE PLEDGE 

Signatories of the Pledge are united to reduce food and farm related greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2020 levels by 2030. By doing so, these leaders are sending a united signal to step up global ambition and encourage others to match their collective ambition for climate, nature and people with the scale of the crisis at hand. This Leaders' Pledge for Sustainable Food is a logical follow up action for all countries who signed the Leaders' Pledge for Nature, the Methane Pledge (2021, Glasgow) or the Zero Deforestation Pledge (2021, Glasgow).

The Sustainable Food Pledge aims to catalyze global action and strengthen support for existing (inter)national food and agriculture related GHG-emission 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, NGO’s and philanthropy play in supporting implementation of the Pledge and welcomes their efforts. 

Climate impact                                                                                                                            

If people in 85 countries on average would eat according to EAT-Lancet Planetary Health dietary guidelines by 2030, 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 encourage consumers to eat conforming to WHO food recommendations, global GHG-emissions would be reduced by 0,52 Gton CO2. (Springmann et al., 2020).  

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. (See IPCC Food Security Report, 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. 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 technical mitigation potential of different dietary changes are for flexitarian diets 5.1 GtCO2-eq per year by 20250 and 4.5 GtCO2-eq reduction for the healthy diet.

In April 2022 the IPPC published a new report (AR6III), asking government to start food policies that help to reduce GHG-emissions (eg. encouraging consumers to eat more plant based proteins and less meat). GHG taxes on foods are mentioned as a powerful  tool in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The authors who worked on the report state that taxing GHG emitting foods, such as meat and dairy, would be ‘low in cost, feasible, environmentally effective and have great ‘’transformational potential’’ (p 157). 

In 2021 at the COP26 over 100 countries signed the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions with 30 percent by 2030(see The Global Methane Pledge) and the Zero Deforestation Plegde for 2030 (see 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. See article, What are the biggest drivers of tropical deforestation?  , and Appetite for Destruction?. Global meat consumption and production is expected to grow 14% from 2020 to 2030, according to FAO study. This means: 14% more animal feed is needed too, which often means more forests are cut to produce more animal feed. A list of 50 countries with the highest meat consumption per capita levels can be found here: Future Food Price – Open Letter. By signing the Sustainable Food Pledge UN member states change diets and also reduce 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. Meat and dairy account for 57 percent of food production related GHG-emissions, an Illinois University study found: Meat Greenhouses and Gases from Food Production. In the EU-27, 80 percent of food related GHG-emissions is from meat and dairy, according to a EU Court of Auditors report.

Health benefits

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.See our report on the World Banks proposal asking governments to introduce taxes on unhealthy foods like processed meats here. 

Around 50 countries now have implemented ‘sugar taxes’ on beverages.See the study Countries that have implemented taxes on unhealthy foods including sugar taxes and the investigation by the TAPP Coalition into an increasing number of countries who are starting to tax meat and dairy, which shows that 7 countries (and the EU) considered taxes on meat (end of 2021).

Economic impact

Policies aiming at low-meat diets are a very cheap policy option for GHG-emission reduction, compared to CO2-reduction policies in other sectors. According to the Dutch institute PBL global mitigation costs can be reduced by 50% compared with a reference model without low-meat diet policies, to achieve a 450 ppm CO2-eq stabilization target (1,5 C goal). See (Vleesconsumptie en klimaatbeleid)  The plant-based protein sector is a growth sector, generating many jobs and economic growth.

Reducing meat consumption in the EU reduces healthcare costs with 9 billion euro/year (report ‘Aligning European food prices with the Green Deal, 2020).

Impact meat and dairy consumption on biodiversity loss and deforestation

According to FAO, livestock (and animal feed) are the major source of biodiversity loss; according to WWF UK, meat and dairy based diets cause 60% of global biodiversity loss.  http://www.cbcgdf.org/English/NewsShow/5008/19608.html 

Scientific articles about true pricing food products:

A Sustainability Charge on Meat (2020) (CE Delft Commissioned by the TAPP Coalition)

Funke, F., Mattauch, L., van den Bijgaart, I., Godfray, C., Hepburn, C. J., Klenert, D., ... & Treich, N. (2021). Is meat too cheap? Towards optimal meat taxation. Jarka, C., Tinggaard, S. G., & Tomas, Z. (2018). A global meat tax: from big data to a double dividend. Agricultural Economics, 64(6), 256-264.

Springmann, M., Spajic, L., Clark, A., Poore, J., Herforth, A., Webb, P., & Scarborough, P., (2020). The healthiness and sustainability of national and global food based dietary guidelines: a modelling study. bmj 370

Tandon, A. (2022, January 10). ‘Rich Nations could see Double Climate Dividend by Switching to Plant Based Foods’. Carbon Brief: Clear on Climate. https://www.carbonbrief.org/rich-nations-could-see-double-climate-dividend-by-switching-to-plant-based-foods

COP25 Presentation by Marco Springman. 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)