“It is high time the COP recognized the industrial food system’s responsibility in the creation of greenhouse gas emissions,” says Ursula Hudson, president of Slow Food Germany and a member of the Slow Food International Executive Committee.
She says it is widely acknowledged that agriculture, and land use in general, causes a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions globally (IPCC).
“In Europe, if we also include the energy consumed for the cultivation and production of food, transport, refrigeration and preparation, the figure rises to 40 per cent,” she further notes.
According to the Slow Food Germany president, the three largest meat producers in the world generate more emissions than France, and almost as much as some of the largest oil companies.
If these companies were a country, she says, they would be the seventh largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.
Ursula recommends that meat consumption be significantly reduced, as two-thirds of agricultural emissions are due to livestock farming, adding that marine ecosystems are capable of sequestering large quantities of CO2 and therefore must be protected.
“Time has come for the international community to take these data into account. We need courageous politicians who are not afraid to sanction industries that do not meet climate targets,” she says.
All of this must be done at a global level and the COP24 is the world’s best shot. Countries that do not respect the agreement, or that withdraw from it, must also be sanctioned in some way by the international community.
The climate issue is a global issue and the future of humanity should not be jeopardised by the shortsighted selfishness of politicians in search of consensus and power.
The case of Brazil’s Amazon forest is emblematic: This huge green lung plays a crucial role in regulating the climate and preserving biodiversity.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that tropical deforestation and forest degradation as a result of agricultural expansion, conversion to grassland, destructive tree felling, forest fires and other causes account for 11 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
It is confirmed that between a staggering 6,624 square kilometers of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest were lost between August 2016 and July 2017, that is, in a single year.
“The future could be even worse,” says Georges Schnyder, president of Slow Food Brazil and member of the Slow Food International Executive Committee.
“If the promises made by (Brazil) President Jair Bolsonaro during his election campaign, including the reduction of environmental protection measures, the end of protected areas and of land reserved for indigenous peoples, reduction of sanctions against environmental crimes, were to come true, the consequences would be catastrophic for the world climate,” he warns.
“It would be a disaster of global proportions. That is why we ask COP24 not to allow such devastating policies to be put into practice,” pleads Schnyder.
Poland, the country hosting COP24, is home to the world’s largest coal-fired power station. Polish president Andrzej Duda opened the Katowice conference by underscoring his country’s intention to start an energy transition, saying they were ready to do their part “for the security of the planet”.
An upbeat Anna Ruminska of Slow Food Dolny Slask meanwhile hopes thus: “Here too, as throughout Europe, concrete and binding commitments will soon be adopted to reduce CO2 emissions and create incentives for those who practise agroecological agriculture, raise livestock extensively, reasonably limit the import of breeds and varieties in order to support and protect local resources and producers, and produce using artisanal methods, saving biodiversity and protecting the soil.”
Slow Food has launched the #FoodforChange campaign to remind everyone that food choices can make a difference. The projects that the global grassroots organisation carries out in over 160 countries show that an alternative model of production is possible.
Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet. The organisation involves over a million activists, chefs, experts, youth, farmers, fishers and academics in over 160 countries.