COP26 ignoring calls to go plant-based and discuss animal agriculture

Around 50 cows in a circle being milked in a factory
Cows in a milking carousel on a farm in Russia, photo: Alexander Ryumin/TASS

The United Nations climate change conference (COP26) appears to be ignoring calls to go plant-based and focus the summit’s discussions on animal agriculture’s contribution to climate change. 

The calls have come from a number of sources, including politicians, animal welfare organizations and celebrities. 

COP26 will be held in Scotland from 31 October to 12 November, and is seen as the most important conference where world leaders will discuss how they’ll limit global warming. 

In the months leading up to COP26, members of the European Parliament, British members of parliamenta group of over 50 NGOs, celebrities including Billie Eilish and Joaquin Phoenix and the Spanish vegan meat brand Heura all urged the conference to put climate issues related to animal farming at the heart of its discussions and to offer plant-based food for attendees. 

At least two petitions were also launched, one of which was registered with the British government

COP26 did not respond to questions from The Animal Reader asking if the need to reduce animal agriculture, particularly intensive farming in developed countries, would be discussed during the summit. 

The organizers also didn’t reply when asked if they would offer attendees a plant-based only food menu or what is known as a plant-based by default menu, which allows guests to request the addition of meat, dairy or fish. 

Confirming it had no reply from COP26, the Dutch Party for the Animals – which requested COP26 to offer a plant-based by default menu – said it would ask the European Parliament to initiate an official request for the summit to act on their suggestion. 

A vote on whether the European Parliament will send an official request to COP26 about offering plant-based food is expected next week.

The UK Vegan Society, the oldest vegan society in the world, was similarly ignored by COP26. In an email, the Vegan Society said their event manager had contacted COP26 directly through their formal communication channel, and to date, hadn’t received a reply. 

The society also tried to contact the organizers of COY16, the youth event preceding COP26, asking if they could “engage with them regarding their programme”. But, after an initial response, the Vegan Society said there was no further contact.

Asked its reaction to being ignored by COP26, a Vegan Society spokesperson said it was “extremely baffling why the COP26 organizers did not provide a plant only menu given the clear science showing the CO2 benefits.” 

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