World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus produced a video for the COP28 event in which he stresses the importance of transforming global food systems, particularly meat production, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our food systems are harming the health of people and planet,” he began. “Food systems contribute to over 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and account for almost one-third of the global burden of disease. Transforming food systems is therefore essential by shifting towards healthier, diversified and more plant-based diets.”

The Director-General went on to say that eight million lives could be saved annually by reforming food systems in this way. He praised “Nordic countries” as “trail blazers” in this area, especially for their policies which have linked climate with nutrition. He then celebrated the 130 countries, including the United States, that have signed onto the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health.

The COP28 Declaration includes commitments to “shifting from higher greenhouse gas-emitting practices to more sustainable production and consumption approaches” and “expedit[ing] the integration of agriculture and food systems into our climate action.” The WHO YouTube video description referred to the COP28 summit as a “gamechanger” for combining climate and “nutrition action.”

In November, it was reported that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was planning to release its “Global Food Systems Road Map” during the COP28 summit. It was delivered as promised, providing an instructional outline to world leaders on how farming practices can be reformed to reach the desired global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which climate change activists ensconced as a target in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Road Map mentions reducing methane emissions (produced by livestock) by as much as 75 percent and greatly reducing the overall amount of energy consumed by the agricultural sector.

A document published by the WHO in July, titled “Red and processed meat in the context of health and the environment: many shades of red and green,” discusses the rising tendency for policy groups to recommend limits to meat consumption. It specifically cites the EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets (an influential NGO with board members from Google, the World Bank, and the UAE government), which urges for a 50 percent reduction to global meat consumption by 2050. EAT recommends imposing a limit of 98 grams of meat per person per week and 203 grams of poultry per week, which translates to 15.62 kilograms of meat per year. By comparison, the average American eats about 127 kilograms per year according to UN FAO.

The WHO held at least two events on food consumption and its relation to climate change during COP28. The first one, titled “Financing nutrition for a healthier climate: the power of sustainable diets,” discussed the “immense pressure” that current food systems place upon the environment. It showcases an analysis conducted by the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN), mentioned by Ghebreyesus in the video message, that draws attention to how little investment there is in programs dedicated to reforming agriculture and food distribution along environmentalist lines.

The second one, called “A systems perspective for urgent climate action,” claims that healthy diets are correlated with a better environment, and that health needs to be incorporated into “the climate agenda.”

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