The Plant Based Treaty is now endorsed by Los Angeles and, in a first for Turkey, the city of Didim.
The treaty, which is a grassroots initiative, was founded to spotlight the environmental impact of unsustainable food systems.
Both Los Angeles and Didim signed up following local council votes that agreed to put the climate crisis at the forefront of localized sustainability efforts. Now, 19 cities and towns globally have signed up to promote the treaty.
“We are aware of the seriousness of the climate crisis. We believe that the Plant Based Treaty campaign will make a positive contribution towards solutions to this crisis,” Ahmet Deniz Atabay, Didim’s mayor, said in a statement.
In LA, the endorsement is indicative of a much wider call to action being spearheaded by council member Paul Koretz. He first put forward the treaty for consideration in September.
“As over 2,200 municipalities did with climate emergency declarations, I invite other cities to join us and endorse the Plant Based Treaty,” he commented.
What does the Plant Based Treaty say?
The Plant Based Treaty is an extension of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It seeks to target the most unsustainable parts of the current global food system.
Right now, animal agriculture emits 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Plus, it’s a leading driver of deforestation.
With that in mind, the treaty has 38 demands in total. These include subsidizing fruit and vegetables, not building new animal farms, and moving towards plant-based meals in schools.
While mass conversion to plant-based diets is considered one of the most powerful ways to align with the treaty, all activities are designed to align with the treaty’s three central priorities: relinquish, redirect, and restore.
In other words, no new animal agriculture and associated infrastructure can be supported. Plus, energy must be diverted to fight the climate emergency, and outdoor spaces need to be allowed to rewild.
Can LA make an impact?
Allegiance to the Plant Based Treaty does not require cities to follow all of its demands. But signing up is a symbolic gesture that indicates a desire to improve the sustainability of local food systems.
LA signing up for the treaty is a significant statement. It’s the largest city in California, which in turn is home to the US’s largest dairy sector. With around 1,400 farms and 1.7 million cows, the industry is a significant contributor to the US’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The California Air Resources Board estimates that animal agriculture creates more than half of all methane generated in the state. According to the Global Methane Pledge, emissions need to be slashed by at least 30 percent by 2030. The US is signed up to the pledge.
“By passing the Plant Based Treaty Resolution, LA City councilmembers are upholding their promise of making the shift towards preventative climate change policy so directly needed for their constituents and beyond,” Ellen Dent, President of Animal Alliance Network, said in a statement.
LA council has not confirmed any steps that will be taken to date.
The Plant Based Treaty in Didim
While Didim does not have a comparable dairy sector to offset, like LA, its treaty alliance sends a clear message about the city’s commitment to climate action.
As the last G20 country to align with the Paris Agreement in 2021, Turkey has historically been slow to act.
However, on a local level, the Didim council is reportedly working directly with the treaty team to devise workshops and seminars. Together they will help transition at least one-third of restaurant and cafe menus to plant-based dishes.
A Plant Based Treaty map will also be distributed, to help consumers find sustainable food alternatives.
“Didim’s decision to endorse the Plant Based Treaty is a bold and necessary move to tackle animal agriculture emissions and promote plant-based food solutions to the climate emergency,” Nilgün Engin from the Plant Based Treaty said in a statement.
“I urge towns and cities across Turkey to follow Didim’s lead because we must see a seismic shift to plant-based diets this decade to avoid complete planetary breakdown.”