Amsterdam, Netherlands 65 scientists from 11 different countries called on mayors across the globe to reduce meat in their city’s public canteens, in order to tackle the climate emergency.

Pete Smith, Professor at the University of Aberdeen and Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has spearheaded the scientists’ joint call to action that was published today. Among the many prominent voices gathered is Canadian scientist and broadcaster, David Suzuki. Together, they are calling for the reduced consumption of livestock products to greatly lower the environmental impacts of food production and benefit human health: “To create a future that is healthy for both citizens and the planet, we call on Mayors today to reduce meat in the meals served in our public canteens and to increase the share of plant-based foods.” [1] [2] [3] [4]

Currently, livestock emissions, including impacts from deforestation for feed production, already account for 14.5% of direct global greenhouse gas emissions, as much as all as cars, trains, ships and airplanes combined.[3] If no sufficient steps are taken, this could grow even further.

Professor Pete Smith said: “Eating less meat and dairy in our growing cities is a way to address the climate emergency. Cities can play a crucial role in helping citizens to reduce their consumption of livestock products, and to enable the changes necessary to meet ambitious climate change targets.”

Greenpeace International spokesperson Reyes Tirado said: “The greenhouse gas footprint of plant-based foods is up to 100 times less than of animal products. Shifting to plant-based foods is also a way to help protect the world’s forests, such as the Amazon. By decreasing the bulk demand for meat, and thus also for feed, cities can make a tremendous difference regarding their carbon and deforestation footprint. We can still limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, but we need quick action.”

Frontrunner cities, such as the host city of this year’s C40 World Mayors Summit, Copenhagen, show that such a shift is doable. The city recently passed a new food strategy that aims at cutting emissions by at least 25% by 2025 via meat reduction and increase of plant based food.

Reyes Tirado said: “Mayors are in charge of millions of meals every day. They should do everything in their power to create a healthy future for both citizens and the planet.”

Hundreds of cities will take part in the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact annual gathering in Montpellier, France (October 7-9), and the C40  World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark (October 9-12). Building on the call to action from scientists, Greenpeace urges city leaders to take the opportunity and publicly commit to changing city food policies and significantly reduce the amount of meat served in public canteens. 


Photos can be seen here


Scientists’ call to action:

[1] Bajželj B., Richards K.S., Allwood J.M., Smith P., Dennis J.S., Curmi E. & Gilligan C.A. 2014. The importance of food demand management for climate mitigation. Nature Climate Change 4, 924–929.


[3] Gerber, P.J., Steinfeld, H., Henderson, B., Mottet, A., Opio, C., Dijkman, J., Falcucci, A. & Tempio, G. 2013. Tackling climate change through livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome.

[4] The appeal is also supported by other renowned scientists such as Stanford University professor Rodolfo Dirzo, McGill University professor Elena Bennet, Oregon State University professor William Ripple, emeritus professor at AgroParisTech Marc Dufumier and University of the Philippines professor Vincent Hilomen.

Reyes Tirado is Senior Scientist at the Greenpeace Research Laboratory at the University of Exeter, UK.

Media contacts:

Nora Holzmann, [email protected], +43 (0) 664 61 03 998 (based in Vienna, Austria)

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)