In a seminar recently hosted by The Plant Based Treaty (a grassroots campaign designed to put food systems at the forefront of combating the climate crisis), Dr Joseph Poore, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Food Sustainability Analytics at Oxford University, has revealed new calculations demonstrating the environmental benefits if all the residents of Edinburgh (Scotland) and Stockholm (Sweden) adopted the diet vegans have. According to him, if Edinburgh fully embraced vegan diets, 232,000 hectares of land could be rewilded and emissions savings would be equivalent to removing 532,000 cars from the streets. If Stockholm were to follow suit, an additional 176,000 hectares of land could be rewilded and the emissions reduction would match taking 935,000 cars off the road. In January 2023, the City of Edinburgh Council endorsed the Plant Based Treaty, becoming the first Scottish city and first capital in Europe to join the initiative.

Dr Poore also noted that we need to take individual action on all fronts to limit global temperatures to 1.5-2C warming and the biggest thing an individual can do is adopt a vegan diet. He stated that, while greenhouse gas emissions saved per person by recycling is 0.2 tonnes CO2eq and avoiding a transatlantic flight saves 1.7 tonnes CO2eq, adopting a vegan diet would bring the biggest savings of 2.9 tonnes CO2eq.

Dr Poore, who was a contributing author of the IPCC 6th Assessment Working Group III report, said, “Plant Based Treaty has focused on getting cities to sign up, which is a really exciting and innovative idea. We have to take carbon dioxide out of the air. We need diet change to free up and liberate large amounts of land for rewilding; both natural vegetation growth, rewilding to bring species back but also for negative emissions. There are very large benefits to cities adopting plant-based diets, it’s a really great initiative the Plant Based Treaty is doing, and I think it’s essential to get more cities signed up and get those cities delivering on what they’ve committed to.”

The Plant Based Treaty is modelled on the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty and inspired by treaties that have addressed the threats of ozone layer depletion and nuclear weapons. Since its launch in August 2021, the initiative has received support from 85,000 individual endorsers, 5 Nobel laureates, IPCC scientists, more than 2000 NGOs and businesses. 

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.