COP26: Carney says ‘there’s not a green switch you can flip

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The climate change summit has brought together more than 100 world leaders in a bid to find a unilateral solution to a warming planet. Many environmental campaigners, however, feel the summit has not gone far enough to promote a sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle among the delegates and thousands of people who descended on Glasgow last week. Environmental groups have shamed the event for not opting out of serving meat and dairy products which, according to some, are greatly contributing to the climate crisis.

According to some estimates, ruminant livestock like cows can produce between 250 and 500 litres of methane per day.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is about 25 times better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Scientists have warned about the impact raising cattle has on the climate as far back as 1995, when a paper published in the Journal of Animal Science said the industry’s contribution to global warming could be about two percent in the next 50 to 100 years.

Yesterday, the US and the EU announced a global partnership to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas by 2030.

But Alex Felipelli, the founder of Veggly, a dating app for vegans and vegetarians, has now told future climate summits have to commit to 100 percent vegan menus if they are to make a difference.

He said: “World leaders at COP26 need to wake up and realise that consuming animal products at a climate summit makes no sense.

“The science is crystal clear on this. Meat and dairy products have a much larger greenhouse gas footprint, and use far more land and water than plant-based foods.”

The COP26 summit is being held at Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus (SEC) Centre, where many of the restaurants have won some praise for their efforts to include sustainable and eco-friendly menus.

Every dish sold at the SEC during the two-week summit is paired with a carbon dioxide equivalent number next to it, to show how much greenhouse gasses have been emitted to produce it.

The idea was proposed by the catering company Compass Group, which together with the SEC has pledged to source at least 80 percent of the summit’s food locally.

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For example, an “organic kale and seasonal vegetable pasta” served by CLYDEBUILT Bar & Kitchen, has a carbon footprint of just 0.3 kgCO2e.

But a “Scottish beef burger” made of Speyside beef has a footprint of 3.9 kgCO2e.

Similarly, the pair have vowed to make all food packaging reusable or recyclable by 2023.

Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales at SEC said: “Our new food strategy is an integral part of our commitment to reducing the environmental impact of events that take place on our Campus.

“As our industry gears up to restart, there is no better time to drive forward positive change.”

Mr Felipelli, however, believes that going purely plant-based is the only way events like COP26 can show true commitment to the cause.

He said: “Food at all climate summits should be 100 percent vegan from now on – it’s the best thing for the planet, the animals, and for people around the world.

“The world’s vegan population is continuing to grow rapidly due to the strong environmental, ethical and health benefits.

“World leaders need to recognise this and make the switch themselves or face criticism for hypocrisy and inconsistency.”

According to a report published by the Vegan Society earlier this year, one in four Brits have reduced their consumption of animal products since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The report, called Changing Diets During the Covid-19 Pandemic, found 20 percent of people have reduced their intake of meat while 12 percent said they were eating fewer eggs and dairy.

The report also found some 32 percent of those surveyed said they were thinking more about their personal impact on the planet.

However, a second survey found 35 percent said they were cutting back on animal products due to health concerns.

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