Why is the COP26 climate meeting catering to the climate catastrophe?

COP 26 should take meat of its menu PETA says. Photo credit: Credit: Peggy Greb.

By Anders Lorenzen

The host and organiser of COP26, the UK government, has come under fire for not offering a plant-based menu at November’s crucial climate conference.

PETA, the animal rights organisation, has in a letter made an unusual request to the event’s president, Alok Sharma to either skip showering between now and the conference start date to help offset the environmental damage caused by the summit’s non-vegan menu or else simply serve vegan meals at the event. The letter details that vegan catering would save far more water than the missed showers, as animal agriculture wastes a third of the world’s freshwater. It takes 15,415 litres of water to produce just one kilogram of beef, and that metric doesn’t even account for all the greenhouse gases that animal agriculture generates.

PETA says that in addition to the environmental benefits of going vegan,  for every person that goes vegan nearly 200 animals are spared the misery of the squalid, crowded conditions on farms and a terrifying death at the abattoirs.

A no-brainer

PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner comments: “Given that the meat and dairy industries are a leading cause of the climate crisis that COP26 is seeking to address, removing these items from the catering menu seems like a no-brainer. All get to dine on delicious, Earth- and animal-friendly food and go ahead and have your shower, too”.

COP26 is not alone in offering a meat menu, the conferences preceding it have done so too. But many consider the  hypocrisy, that animal agriculture’s role in the climate crisis is too often neglected and that a climate change conference should be leading the way and not continue offering a climate-wrecking menu. While the UK government has unveiled a series of positive climate change and environmental policies in recent years, they have also avoided venturing into the meat versus climate debate. 

In recent years, several studies have found that animal agriculture contributes far more to the climate crisis than previously understood.

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