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French Vegetarian Association Urges Danish Prime Minister to Implement Vegetarian Cateringduring Copenhagen Summit
Association Végétarienne de France
November 23rd, 2009
M. Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Statsministeriet - Christiansborg
Prins Jørgens Gård 11 - 1218 København K
Dear Prime Minister,
The Copenhagen Summit represents a crucial stage in the fight against global warming and everyone expects the discussions to be multiple and intense. But the world waits not only for debates, but also for signals in addition to words.
To this end, we would like to propose that you arrange for meals with the lowest possible carbon imprint to be served for everyone throughout the summit, namely vegetarian meals or, even better, vegan ones.
This would be a very strong symbolic gesture underlining the willingness of participants to curb the increasing pace of climate degradation.
The excellence of a plant-based cuisine has long been established and provides the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that choices can be made that lead to enormous ecological benefits, without cost in terms of daily comfort.
It is a fact that the exploitation of farm animals is one of the main factors - if not the major culprit - in global pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the erosion of biodiversity, both for land-based and marine animals alike [Livestock's Long Shadow, FAO, 2006].
Given the great extent of the damage, it would be indecent to persist in ignoring it, thus running the risk of appearing uninformed about the problems of our time. [Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman, IPCC, Less Meat, Less Heat: Impacts of livestock on climate change, 2008].
It is worth noting that the farming of marine animals represents the same carbon imprint - weight for weight - as the poultry sector [Brussels Instituut voor milieubeheer, 2008 and DEFRA, UK, 2006]. The idea of replacing meat with fish to reduce the carbon imprint is simply an illusion because of the fishing fleet’s heavy consumption of fossil fuel and the low energy efficiency of aquaculture [Diet, Energy and Global Warming, Earth Interactions, 10 (9), 2006].
But that’s not all…
- Animal farming is a bottomless pit for proteins, calories, and energy, with losses of up to 90%. Such a disastrous cost-effectiveness is only sustainable - in our industrialized countries - through taxpayers’ money [The livestock industry and climate - EU makes bad worse, Jens Holm & Toivo Jokkala, 2008].
- The raising of livestock is one of the direct causes of deforestation - and consequently of carbon emissions - in vulnerable areas like South America [Slaughtering the Amazon, Greenpeace, 2009].
- Eight times more water is needed to produce one calorie of animal origin than is needed to produce one calorie of vegetable origin [Saving Water: from Field to Fork, SIWI, 2008].
- The consumption of marine animals maintains the fishing industry, which leads to overfishing (37% of fish species are already threatened), waste (for every two kilos of fish caught for human consumption, one more kilo of dead fish is thrown back into the sea and one more is processed into fish meal) and the pollution of coastal ecosystems through aquaculture (salmon-farming in Scotland produces the same amount of waste matter per day as the population of Edinburgh).
These are only a few examples…
In a country like ours - France - nearly a quarter of all greenhouse emissions stems from animals raised or fished for our consumption. In France, a single day on a plant-based diet per week would equal the removal of more than 5 million vehicles from the roads.
It is a fact that the “civilization of animal consumption”, as it is pushed today by extreme productivity, and promoted globally based on the Western model, is one of the best tools for taking us down the road of the destruction of civilization altogether.
- Since 2000, the icecap of Greenland has lost some 1.500 billion tons and Greenland’s ice contains enough water to cause a rise of ocean levels by seven meters [Science, 13 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5955, pp. 984 – 986].
- Permafrost contains twice as much carbon as is already present in the atmosphere, and its melting would be catastrophic [Bad Sign for Global Warming: Thawing Permafrost Holds Vast Carbon Pool, University of Florida, 2008].
We cannot continue to quietly ignore the crucial impact which greenhouse gases resulting from livestock, fishing and aqua-farming have on global warming and its collateral damage.
For this reason we ask you to use your authority as Summit host to arrange for food for participants to be vegan, or at least vegetarian. Denmark has all that it takes in terms of know-how, competence and food resources to carry out this initiative, so that these alternatives can be easily organized. It would be a meaningful choice worthy of great respect and it would make loud and clear your knowledge of current climate problems.
Sir, you are in a position to ensure that all the peoples and nations of the earth watching the Copenhagen Summit understand that our leaders are determined to set an example. If ever there was a time to give a strong signal, it is now.
All meals served at the NGO-organized “Counter-Summit” will be vegetarian. We hope that you will want to do no less and thus be a leader in developing a genuinely eco-responsible strategy for the Summit.
The members of the French Vegetarian Association