Over this two part blog, Grammenos Mastrojeni, an Italian diplomat for international affairs and friend to Compassion, shares his thoughts with me in the aftermath of the recent climate summit in Paris, regarding the forgotten sector and the power of the individual.
The climate summit in Paris, COP21, was a step forward, as international leaders met to discuss thoughts, ideas, and ultimately, legislation, on the world’s Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. A deal aimed at limiting the rise in global temperatures to less than 2°C was finally agreed after two weeks of intense negotiations. However, one vital subject was missing from these essential discussions - our diets.
Animal agriculture and the genuine need for a reduction in meat and dairy consumption was missing from the conversation. Despite the fact that livestock production, fuelled by factory farming, is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s planes, trains and cars put together.
We are close to crossing planetary limits; tipping points, beyond which there will be dangerous consequences.
Grammenos shares his thoughts on COP21: “We individuals - voters or politicians, citizens or administrators, employees or CEOs - are the ones who have to change habits and our perspectives.
“The ecosystem does not react to treaties and bills.
“A paradigm of how it all works and a hint of the marvellous coherence of nature emerges in one of the most basic human needs, food.
“Those nutritional habits that are most harmful for our individual health are also the ones that more severely impact the environment and require a continuous exercise of cruelty on life: excess meat consumption, processing, packaging and so on are making agriculture unsustainable while they harm our health too.”
Research has shown that reducing our meat consumption, in particular, processed meat consumption, could also reduce serious illnesses such as diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Grammenos continues: “So, what nature asks us as a “price and sacrifice” to save her, is just to be healthier. As simple as that, this paradigm works in all sectors: transportation – let’s choose to hike and bike a little more, it’s good for our health and our wallets! Households, let’s spare money and avoid disease with no unnecessary lights, heating, cooling and so on! National and international economy - let us create new jobs by greening the whole game!”
As demand for livestock products continues to surge, particularly in developing countries, the emissions from food are poised to increase dramatically.
Grammenos puts it eloquently, when he says: “Even the most successful international agreement and the best legislation cannot replace the main element of the equation: that people, each individual, are the only ones who can make the ultimate difference.
“You are powerful and you can make the difference, no matter how insignificant you feel. And only you can make it: no law, no treaty, no policy can replace your choice to save our future.”