Edinburgh becomes first capital city in Europe to endorse the Plant Based Treaty

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  20th January 2023

The Plant Based Treaty promotes animal-free food, which it says will 'help residents make informed choices that are better for the planet, personal health and animal protection'

The City of Edinburgh Council has become the first capital city in Europe to endorse the Plant Based Treaty in a bid to tackle food emissions from animal agriculture and attributed deforestation.

It joins some 20 municipal governments worldwide, including Los Angeles and Haywards Heath, in supporting the Treaty.

The move follows the publication of the impact assessment report last week, which acknowledges the link between environmentally harmful emissions and diets containing animal foods.

The report says ‘diets high in plant protein and low in meat and dairy make for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and that consequently, shifting consumption towards plant-based diets has a major mitigation potential’.

It adds: “Overall, the science is clear, meat and dairy consumption must reduce to achieve climate targets.” 

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Edinburgh’s consumption-based footprint is accounted for by food and diet, with 12 per cent coming from the consumption of meat.

This leads the report to conclude that ‘a shift to plant-based diets would therefore significantly reduce the city’s consumption-based emissions’.

Plant Based Treaty

The amendment passed with 12 votes to 5 with support from the Greens, Labour and Scottish National Party.

Speaking about the support for the motion, Ben Parker, Co-Convenor of the Green group of Councillors in the City of Edinburgh Council said: “Following the hard work of Green Councillors, in 2019 the City of Edinburgh Council declared a Climate Emergency. In 2021 we also signed the Fossil Fuel Treaty and I’m now delighted to see us endorse the Plant Based Treaty in 2023.

“To sign the treaty is to show that we take our climate commitments seriously, and recognise the science behind the climate emergency – that is, to know that food systems are key drivers of emissions, and that plant-based foods must figure as part of the solution to tackling climate change.

“I’m proud that the City of Edinburgh Council is showing leadership in this space and I look forward to seeing the Council Leader now write to the First Minister to encourage the Scottish Government to follow suit in endorsing the treaty. Furthermore, I hope that other Councils in Scotland – and the rest of the UK – can follow our lead on this too.

“When it comes to the climate emergency, we must leave no stone unturned. We need to see a radical and wholescale shift in our approach to all manner of policies, actions and activities – crucially, this must include food systems, and that’s why I’m so pleased to see the Council sign the treaty today.”

‘Global climate leader’

Meanwhile, Nicola Harris, Communications Director at Plant Based Treaty, added: “Edinburgh has lived up to its reputation as a global climate leader by acknowledging the critical need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the food system to achieve our climate targets.

“Promoting plant-based food across Edinburgh will help residents make informed choices that are better for the planet, personal health and animal protection.”

Now campaigners are calling on other towns and cities to follow Edinburgh’s lead and endorse the treaty.

Other support for the treaty has come in the form of endorsements from vegan celebrities including Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.

If you’re keen to cut your own carbon footprint by switching to plant-based meals, check out our 31 easy Veganuary recipes to make for dinner this January

Featured image: Alice-photo via Getty images

Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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