Extreme weather, wildfires, floods, coral reefs dying, glacial retreat, polar bears starving… we hear it every day now. Some of us are already experiencing the effects of climate change — hurricanes, heat waves, drought. Soon, most of us will.
Human activity and a growing population are putting the environment, wildlife and biodiversity, and the future of humankind itself in jeopardy. We are faced with the task of tackling some of the biggest challenges in history. From global food security and resource depletion to environmental degradation and climate change, the urgency to find sustainable solutions to how we exist on this planet is greater now than ever.
Accelerating climate action worldwide
Last month (September 12–14), in San Francisco, California, the 2018 Global Climate Action Summit brought together more than 4,000 delegates, including climate leaders, experts, investors, and citizens from across the world to “take ambition to the next level.”
This annual, international event called on national governments to collaborate in their efforts to step up their actions and commitments ahead of 2020 — the year identified by scientists as the deadline for peak global temperature rise.
This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to keep global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement. It will encourage governments worldwide to step up their actions, demonstrating the vital role that states and regions, companies, investors, and civil society are playing to tackle climate change.
—Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary and summit co-chair, as quoted in a UN Climate Press Release from the summit
With a program of more than 25 sessions covering a broad spectrum of climate-related topics, the Global Climate Action Summit celebrated worldwide efforts and achievements and supported the acceleration of collaborative action to help realize The Paris Agreement — the first international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Five key commitments formed the backbone of this year’s summit:
- Healthy Energy Systems
- Inclusive Economic Growth
- Sustainable Communities
- Land and Ocean Stewardship
- Transformative Climate Investments
These discussions challenged people, communities, societies, and economies to be ambitious and innovative with their climate solutions and actions towards achieving climate goals.
A Medium article provides an overview of the seven top solutions identified during this year’s Global Climate Action Summit.
Beginning on our plate: Brighter Green
More than 325 affiliate events were organized worldwide in conjunction with the Global Climate Action Summit, including one hosted by VegFund grantee, Brighter Green and partner organizations. Their successful strategy session focused on food, land use, and shifting diets in the climate change space — a subject too often overlooked in the climate conversation.
Animal agriculture contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration, and deforestation. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change. The livestock sector contributes 14.5 percent of global climate emissions, and studies suggest that meeting climate goals will require changing both how food is produced, and which kinds of food are consumed.
Brighter Green’s event “Food and Climate Strategy Session: Building Solidarity with Demand-side Solutions” strove to find ways to collaborate strategically to accelerate climate action in the food and agriculture sector by exploring the benefits we can gain from shifting diets, particularly in over-consuming populations.
Facilitated by climate experts and change-makers, this session highlighted the effects livestock farming and animal-based food products are having on climate and nurtured a thought-provoking discussion on ways to develop holistic approaches and cross-sectoral strategies on all levels that promote shifting diets as a climate change mitigation strategy.
We still have considerable footwork to get the topic of dietary change embedded into our conversations about climate change. Events like Brighter Green’s strategy session that form part of high-profile events such as the Global Climate Action Summit are putting the topic on the radar of large and influential audiences.
Transformational changes are happening across the world and across all sectors as a result of technological innovation, new and creative policies and political will at all levels. It’s important to continue these efforts to expedite a just transition to a secure and equitable food system that benefits people, animals, and the planet.
—Caroline Wimberly, Brighter Green
BBC News Services’ sobering article (8 Oct. 18) “Final call to save the world from ‘climate catastrophe” is based on a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the critical need to keep global temperature rise under 1.5 °C, which calls for urgent action at all levels to avoid climate catastrophe. The report emphasizes that the world cannot meet this target without actions by individuals, urging people to reduce their consumption of meat and dairy and to decrease our demand for other livestock products.
This report will add even more credibility to our continued advocacy efforts at the international, national, sub-national, and local levels pushing for effective, equitable policy responses to our broken food system along with other organizations and individuals working in this space.
—Caroline Wimberly, Brighter Green
Transitioning to more sustainable food and farming systems is not easy. We need to be strategic, collaborative, and holistic in our climate action efforts. It’s time we transition to living in a way that works with, not against, the natural world that sustains us.
Do you have an outreach idea to help put animal agriculture on the climate agenda?
We’d love to hear from you! Perhaps you’d like to host an environmental film screening or, showcase a selection of plant-based foods available to help reduce our carbon footprint—or maybe you’ve a research project in mind that will inform and guide communities in stepping up their climate action efforts. Find out more about the support VegFund can offer.
Brighter Green is a public policy action tank that works to raise awareness of and encourage policy action on issues that span the environment, animals, and sustainability. On its own and in partnerships, Brighter Green generates and incubates research and project initiatives that are both visionary and practical, to illuminate public debate with the goal of social transformation at local and international levels. Follow Brighter Green on Facebook to stay informed about their latest work.
Feature image credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals