Climate Change

The global food system is incredibly fragile, a reality made abundantly clear during the current Covid-19 pandemic. We need to prioritise making food pathways resilient as we rebuild and enter into the ‘new normal’.

How can we achieve this whilst food systems continue to be left out of the discourse on climate change? The global food system contributes up to 37% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, of which farm animal production alone accounts for nearly 16.5%, and the numbers of animals raised for human consumption continue to rise, as do the impacts of animal agriculture. Yet, while our foodprint continues to expand, developed countries remain largely silent, refusing to discuss plans to curb the devastating overconsumption and overproduction of meat, eggs, and dairy.

The problem of animal agriculture cannot be ignored anymore. It is a reality with strong consequences impacting so many issues, including climate change, health hazards, loss of biodiversity, accelerated deforestation, increased world hunger and food insecurity, decreased animal welfare, and water scarcity.

We need strong, unified action today

With our partners, 50by40 aims to change the global food system via Just Transition to be climate- and animal-friendly, and ensure equity across the entire supply chain.

We convene experts on climate change, farm animal welfare, forests, institutional procurement, land grabbing, and sustainable diets. This enables the creation of multistakeholder campaigns to fix the global food system by shifting public opinion and influencing policymakers, enabling meaningful action against climate change.

Divestment

Public and private financial institutions support animal production industries and enable their expansion around the world. Large, multinational corporations dominate the global food trade yet are relatively unknown to the general public and are oftentimes able to keep hidden their practices of animal cruelty, environmental degradation, corruption, and poor worker treatment.

To create a better global food system, we must draw attention to those entities that exploit the planet, animals,and workers, and shift funds away from their practices. This working group convenes discussions, uniquely providing partners with the opportunity to explore and implement divestment advocacy.

Food@COP

Consistency is key to affecting change, and one of the most visible areas suffering from a lack of consistency is catering. The food served at climate change events must reflect the agenda the organisers are trying to achieve. Yet, too often, the menus include industrially produced animal products that have a direct negative effect on the environment. In contrast, plant-based foods are overwhelmingly recognised as having the lowest environmental impact. Serving plant-based or plant-forward foods at climate change events not only exhibits consistency in ethics and practice, thereby adding credibility, but also encourages similar individual and group behaviour.

In this spirit, 50by40 has helped create and shape a global, youth-led campaign calling for the upcoming 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to serve 100% plant-based food, which would send a vitally important message. Food@COP hosts weekly meetings, creating a strategy for a strong and diverse campaign that includes social media engagement, as well as outreach to aligned groups and contacts from UNFCCC and the COP26 team. Learn more about the campaign here.

Global Letter Collection: Food Systems and Covid-19

With the realities of Covid-19, organisations and advocacy groups are demanding change and improvement in global food systems. The Global Letter Collection project is collecting and organising letters from civil society groups from around the world that call for reforms in global food systems, which will serve as an important advocacy tool for future policy reform projects.

Peak Livestock

By 2030, farm animal production is predicted to be responsible for 49% of the global greenhouse gas quota set in the Paris Agreement. A major contributor to this rising greenhouse gas emissions crisis is deforestation to make way for grazing land as well as growing crops to feed animals raised for human consumption. Indeed, the land being clear-cut could be used to mitigate climate change, rather than contribute to it. Urgent action is needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and avoid a catastrophe that cannot be undone.

To ensure we can achieve Peak Livestock within the next decade, 50by40 has brought together our partners to advocate for policy targeted towards reducing farm animal production and deforestation. In 2019, we organised a rapid response campaign with 29 partners to support the scientific community in demanding Peak Livestock by 2030. To learn more about the effort, see its coverage in The Guardian and CNN, and on BBC 4’s World at One and BBC World Service’s Newshour. You can read the letter in The Lancet Planetary Health here.


  1. IPCC (2019). Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems [P.R. Shukla, J. Skea, E. Calvo Buendia, V. Masson-Delmotte, H.- O. Pörtner, D. C. Roberts, P. Zhai, R. Slade, S. Connors, R. van Diemen, M. Ferrat, E. Haughey, S. Luz, S. Neogi, M. Pathak, J. Petzold, J. Portugal Pereira, P. Vyas, E. Huntley, K. Kissick, M. Belkacemi, J. Malley, (eds.)].
  2. Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.
  3. ‘Scientists call for renewed Paris pledges to transform agriculture’, 2019, Harwatt, H, Ripple, W, et al, December 11, 2019, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(19)30245-1

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