On 14th March 2023, Norwich City Council agreed to call on the UK government to sign the Plant Based Treaty, becoming the third council in the UK to endorse it after Edinburgh and Haywards Heath. As a companion to the UNFCCC/Paris Agreement, The Plant Based Treaty initiative is a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combating the climate crisis. Modelled on the popular Fossil Fuel Treaty, the Plant Based Treaty aims to halt the widespread degradation of critical ecosystems caused by animal agriculture and to promote a shift to healthier, sustainable plant-based diets.
The motion states: “Producing a kilo of beef creates, on average, 12 times more CO2 than a kilo of tofu or other soya-based proteins. Meanwhile, producing a litre of dairy milk uses, on average, at least four times as much land as producing a litre of plant milk… As well as a smaller carbon footprint, eating more plant-based foods also reduces the land footprint of our diets and would improve UK food security and self-sufficiency, thereby making our diets more local.”
The motion was introduced by Councillor Alex Catt and seconded by Councillor Jamie Osborn from the Green Party. Councillor Catt said: “We can’t sit back and ignore the huge part that food systems play and the urgent need for institutional changes to eliminate the substantial contribution that food production plays in climate change and global deforestation… Agriculture, forestry and land use contribute a much higher percentage of global emissions than all the transport combined. Transport may be a sector that receives a lot of attention, but the food we eat is actually the secret emitter in all of this and we are running out of time to take action.”
Nicola Harris, The Plant Based Treaty campaigner, said: “It is promising to see the council commit to providing increased accessibility to plant-based foods through council-run cafes, kiosks, leisure centres and community gardens. Institutions have a key role in shifting the nation towards climate-friendly plant-based diets. Momentum for plant-based food solutions to the climate emergency is growing, with Norwich becoming the third council to call on the UK government to endorse the Plant Based Treaty.”
Norwich was the city where in 2020 a judge ruled that ethical veganism is a protected class in the UK under the Equality Act 2010.