Reading Time: 3 minutes The natural historian has used his platform in the past to advocate plant-based eating Credit: REUTERS / HENRY NICHOLLS
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Veteran broadcaster Sir. David Attenborough has been named People’s Advocate ahead of the UN climate summit.

The natural historian will work with the UK as a host of COP26 – an event organized to ‘accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement’.

David Attenborough named People’s Advocate

He will address world leaders at major international events over the next six months and put forward a ‘compelling case’ for climate action.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Attenborough for inspiring ‘millions of people in the UK and around the world’ to help protect the planet for future generations. 

He added: “There is no better person to build momentum for further change as we approach the COP26 climate summit in November. 

“I am hugely grateful to Sir David for agreeing to be our People’s Advocate.”

“The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems.”

David Attenborough, Broadcaster

Commenting on the role, Attenborough said he was ‘greatly honored’ to become the People’s Advocate. 

“There could not be a more important moment that we should have international agreement,” he added.

“The epidemic has shown us how crucial it is to find agreement among nations if we are to solve such worldwide problems. 

“But the problems that await us within the next 5 – 10 years are even greater.”

Attenborough then concluded: “It’s crucial that these meetings in Glasgow have success. And, that at last, the nations will come together to solve the crippling problems that the world now faces.”

Will David Attenborough criticize animal ag?

However, will the national treasure use his position to criticize animal agriculture and meat production?

Although Attenborough is not vegan, he has used his platform to advocate plant-based eating. 

“The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. If we all ate only plants, we’d need only half the land we use at the moment.”

David Attenborough, Broadcaster

The 94-year-old has ditched red meat and dubbed free-range animal products as ‘middle-class hypocrisy’.

He told The Times: “I eat fish and chicken, and my conscience does trouble me. I’m affluent enough to afford free-range, but it’s a middle-class hypocrisy.”

Moreover, in an interview with Radio Times, Attenborough said: “The planet can’t support billions of meat-eaters. If we all ate only plants, we’d need only half the land we use at the moment.”

Paris Agreement

But, highlighting the perils of the meat industry is essential in fighting the climate crisis.

In fact, food expert Bruce Friedrich says meeting the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to ideally 1.5 degrees Ceclius is ‘imposisble’ unless meat production is reduced.

Moreover, a recent report found animal agriculture is responsible for at least 87 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

‘The leading cause of desertification’

The Climate Healers position paper, by Dr. Sailesh Rao, has been published by the Journal of Ecological Society. 

It argues that the influence of the meat and dairy industry has ‘underestimated’ the environmental impact of livestock farming.

In a statement sent to PBN, Climate Healers said: “When people think of animal agriculture and climate change, they’ve been encouraged to consider it only from the perspective of the methane produced by the animals themselves. 

“This is a significant issue. Animal agriculture accounts for at least 37 percent of methane released annually, according to the FAO itself.

“However, it is only one of the negative impacts of animal agriculture. Animal agriculture is also the leading cause of desertification, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, and ocean dead zones… All of which degrade the climate.”

COP26

The COP26 is being urged to offer exclusively plant-based foods.

At the time of writing, an online petition urgent the event to hire vegan caterers has garnered more than 1,400 signatures.

It states: “Disappointingly, previous UN Climate Change conferences have offered very little plant-based foods.

“COP26 presents an opportunity for the UK government to set a global example in Glasgow, one of most vegan-friendly cities in the world. 

“Halving consumption of meat, dairy products, and eggs in the European Union would achieve a 40 percent reduction in ammonia emissions and a 25–40 percent reduction in non-CO2 GHG emissions…”

You can sign the petition here

Liam Giliver

Liam is the former Deputy Editor of Plant Based News. He has written for The Independent, Huffington Post, Attitude Magazine, and more. He is also the author of 'We're Worried About Him'.