COP26 – International Plant-Based Foods Working Group calls on the international community and national governments to harness the power of a plant-based food system for sustainability and to fight climate change

The International Plant-Based Foods Working Group calls on the international community and national governments to make a predominantly plant-based food system a central part of global and national strategies to address the urgent climate crisis.

COP26 is a historic opportunity for global leaders to take stock of the progress made towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to define a bold, concrete action plan to tackle the current climate crisis. Food plays a central role in achieving those targets, as our current food systems are responsible for over one-third of all human-caused GHG emissions. Unfortunately, food systems are not evolving at the speed required to address climate change. Current consumption patterns are still heavily biased toward resource-intensive foods such as animal-based products. Production of those foods is a major cause of additional GHG emissions, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. We must do better.

To succeed in staying within the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree Celsius target, we must undertake a global shift in dietary patterns towards less carbon-intensive products. A vital part of this shift is for populations to embrace plant-based foods.

In this context, we recommend that nations commit in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to:

  • Supporting farmers in moving towards more sustainable agricultural practices and crops (e.g. plant protein crops) by providing and/or redirecting financial incentives to reduce the quantity of arable land used for animal feed and animal production, instead of utilizing the land for crops for direct human consumption;
  • Educating citizens about plant-based foods via public campaigns;
  • Ensuring that labelling requirements for plant-based foods products empower consumers to make more sustainable food choices;
  • Integrating plant-based foods into public procurement (e.g. making plant-based options available in schools, hospitals, etc.), as well as in national dietary guidelines;
  • Using economic incentives to facilitate access to plant-based products;
  • Allocating funds for targeted research and innovation on plant-based foods, and to support diversified climate-friendly crops and plant aquaculture both on land and under the sea; and
  • Developing food environments where plant-based foods are presented as the sustainable choice (e.g. in retail stores).