Israeli activists demand action against animal agriculture at climate conference

Israeli activists demand action against animal agriculture at climate conference

Israeli activists joined colleagues from across the world to demand that governments work to cut back on animal agriculture and encourage vegan diets at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in Germany this past week.

In her efforts to promote animal rights and action on climate change-related to agriculture, Yael Hanna Gabay, the founder of the Freedom4Animals organization and a global campaign coordinator for the Plant Based Treaty, has encountered many obstacles from the government.

“Everybody is always avoiding speaking about ‘the cow in the room.'”

Yael Hanna Gabay, founder of Freedom4Animals

“Everybody is always avoiding speaking about ‘the cow in the room,'” lamented Gabay, adding that while environmental and animal rights organizations continue pushing for action from the Environmental Protection and Agriculture Ministries, “nothing is moving.”

Gabay recently decided to take the opportunity to go to the climate conference in Bonn to see how pressure can be applied to the government to take action, as well as to see what Israeli representation was present at the conference.

Israeli animal rights activist Yael Gabay at the Bonn Climate Change Conference (credit: Plant Based Treaty)

The Israeli activist discovered that there was no Israeli representative at the agricultural part of the conference, despite most other countries having representatives.

While at the conference, Gabay joined with activists from the Plant Based Treaty to call on delegates to adopt the recommendations of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and sign the Plant Based Treaty.

The Plant Based Treaty is a grassroots campaign that presents a roadmap to combat climate change fueled by food systems. The treaty calls for governments to focus on plant-based agriculture and cut back on animal agriculture.

About 40,000 individuals, 750 organizations, 600 businesses and 16 cities and states have endorsed the Plant Based Treaty.

The “Israel Climate Save” organization has worked to encourage Israelis to endorse the treaty, with over 2,000 Israelis have signed so far, including MKs Eli Avidar and Yasmin Friedman, as well as Haifa City Council member Hila Laufer.

As part of the Plant Based Treaty’s activities at the conference, Gabay helped organize a campaign to hand out plant-based hot dogs to delegates. While it was meant to be a one-day project, it was extended for three days because it was so well received.

“We gave out almost 2,000 hot dogs to delegates and everybody was talking about our food truck and everyone was smiling and happy to try plant-based [food] and it was an amazing reception there,” said Gabay.

Gabay related how Paul Desanker, the manager of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), came up to the activists and told them that they’ve had a large impact inside and outside the conference.

The Israeli activist also joined her colleagues in protests both inside and outside the conference to demand action. The activists held signs reading “Eat plants, plant trees,” “Business as usual is not an option” and “Animal agriculture = climate & biodiversity collapse,” among other slogans.

The Plant Based Treaty, YOUNGO (Youth Constituency of UNFCCC), CAN (Climate Action Network) and DCJ (Demand Climate Justice) protested against the resistance from the US, Brazil, the G77 and other countries against the inclusion of plant-based agroecology, sustainable diets, and a just transition to a plant-based food system to be included in the final Korinivia Joint Work on Agriculture papers.

The activists also handed out copies of the Plant Based Treaty’s first position paper which lined out the dangers of animal agriculture and proposed a roadmap to cut back on animal agriculture and encourage plant-based options.

‘Global veganization is now a survival imperative’

“This is a do or die decade, particularly when it comes to the methane crisis,” said Gabay. “We need an immediate and rapid shift away from animal-based foods to plant-based foods in response to the climate emergency. The science presented by the IPCC is irrefutable, a vegan diet is an optimal diet for the planet and we need to negotiate a Plant Based Treaty now.”

Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to the climate crisis, with methane emissions, deforestation, biodiversity loss and other issues exacerbating the crisis.

The IPCC Special Report on Land Use found that a vegetarian diet would save almost 6 gigatons equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions and a vegan diet would raise that to 8 gigatons. The reforestation of lands currently used to farm animals would raise that benefit even higher.

A report published in the journal Science in 2020 found that the emissions from the global food system are enough on their own to make it impossible to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

“The science is definite, global climate catastrophe cannot be averted without the elimination of meat and dairy in our diet, and that must happen fast,” said Dr. Peter Carter, an IPCC expert reviewer. “Ethically, all unnecessary methane sources have to be cut as fast and far as feasible. That means global veganization is now a survival imperative.”

Israel is fourth largest beef consumer worldwide

Israel is the fourth largest per capita consumer of beef in the world, consuming 19.6 kg of meat per capita per year. In comparison, the per capita consumption of meat in OECD countries was 14.4 kg per year, about 5 kg less than in Israel. [The Health Ministry recommends eating no more than 300 grams of beef/red meat per week (or 15.6 kilograms of beef per year)]

The only countries that have a higher meat consumption than Israel are Argentina, the US and Brazil.

Over 70% of fresh meat slaughtered in Israel comes from calves imported from Europe and Australia, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

While meat consumption has grown by 50% since 2015, in 2021, quantitative sales of fresh meat in Israel fell by 2%, while sales of frozen meat fell by 12%, according to Storncast data.

The international awareness day against live exports of animals will be marked on Tuesday, June 14. In the first five months of 2022, 433,959 calves and lambs were imported on live transports to Israel, according to data from the Agriculture Minister.

In 2021, over 850,000 animals were imported on live transport to Israel, according to the Animals Now organization.

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Author: admin