The Plant Based Treaty
This month we signed the plantbased treaty.
What is the Plant Based Treaty?
The adoption of a Plant Based Treaty as a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement will put food systems at the heart of combating the climate crisis. The Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture, to promote a shift to more healthy, sustainable plant-based diets and to actively reverse damage done to planetary functions, ecosystem services and biodiversity.
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.
Addressing fossil fuels alone is 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.
The Plant Based Treaty has three core principles:
Demand 1 | Relinquish
Stop the problem increasing. No land use change, including deforestation, for animal agriculture
- No building of new animal farms
- No building of new slaughterhouses
- No expansion or intensification of existing farms
- No conversion of plant-based agriculture to animal agriculture
- No conversion of any land for animal feed production
- No clearing of forests or other ecosystems for animal grazing, animal rearing or animal farming of any kind
- No new fish farms or expansion of existing aquaculture farms
- Protection of Indigenous peoples; their land, rights and knowledge
- Ban all live exports
- No new large-scale industrial fishing vessels
Demand 2 | Redirect
Eliminate the driving forces behind the problem. Promotion of plant-based foods and actively transition away from animal-based food systems to plant-based systems.
- Declare a climate emergency – join the 1,900+ local governments in 34 different countries that have already done so
- Food security should be placed as a priority for all nations, with a focus on ending poverty and hunger and making nutritious food accessible for all
- Acknowledge and support the pivotal role small farmers have in feeding the planet; support them to maintain (or restore) autonomy over their lands, water, seeds and other resources
- Prioritize a switch to plant-based foods in Climate Action Plans
- Update government food and dietary guidelines to promote wholefood, plant-based food
- Design public information campaigns to raise awareness about the climate and the environmental advantages and health benefits of plant-based food, nutrition and cooking
- Aim to reduce the public’s consumption of animal-based food through education in schools
- Transition to plant-based meal plans in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and government institutions
- Mandate honest labelling of food products, including cancer warning labels on all processed meats which have been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization
- Introduce a meat tax (including fish) with proceeds funding restoration of land destroyed by animal agriculture
- Subsidize fruits and vegetables to make a wholefoods, plant-based diet more affordable and end food deserts that hurt low income communities
- Redirect government subsidies for animal agriculture, slaughterhouses and industrial fishing to environmentally-friendly production of plant-based food
- End government subsidized advertising for the meat, dairy and egg industry
- Create green bonds to fund a transition to a plant-based economy
- Provide financial support and training for farmers, ranchers and fisherpeople to move away from animal production to diversified (ideally organic agroecological) plant-based systems
Demand 3 | Restore
Actively healing the problem while building resilience and mitigating climate change. Restore key ecosystems and reforest the earth
- Reforestation projects to be rolled out in appropriate ecosystems using native tree species to restore habitats to a previously similar state
- Reforestation and restoration of the oceans is prioritised by designating additional areas of the oceans as zero fishing Marine Protected Areas (known as Highly Protected Marine Areas – HPMAs)
- All existing Marine Protected Areas should be declared strictly no fishing zones and converted to HPMAs
- Active programs rolled out to replant critical carbon absorbers in the oceans, such as seagrass beds
- Restore key degraded ecosystems which are essential for carbon sequestration cycles: mangroves, peat bogs, forests, some types of grassland
- Focus shift on nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Subsidies made available for farmers and landowners who practise good land stewardship and are actively restoring the land and the associated ecosystem services (such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity, flood defence, general climate change resilience)
- Subsidies made available for rewilding and reforestation projects
- Incentivised subsidies / grants for farmers to switch from animal agriculture to diversified plant production
- Cities: increase trees and wildflowers, increase green community projects, wildlife corridors, green rooftops, local growing schemes, work towards biodiversity increases
- Enhance food justice by providing access to healthy food for all, especially low-income communities of color
- Repurpose available land freed up from animal grazing and animal feed production for: rewilding, reforestation (if appropriate), returning land to Indigenous people, nature reserves, hiking zones, community growing, allotments (if appropriate), agroecological food growing (where possible)
- Shift of some land ownership into community hands so the land can be repurposed for reforestation, green space and community food gardens and allotments