TAPP Response to COP28 Agri-Food Agreements and FAO Roadmap to net-zero
TAPP Coalition, a global coalition of food companies, together with farmer organisations, youth, health, environment and animal welfare groups, welcomes the FAO Roadmap presented at COP28 10th December, and two other COP28 Declarations about Agriculture, Food, Climate and Health signed by over 120 countries. TAPP Coalition Director Remmers said ‘This COP28 showed agriculture and food will stay very high on the climate agenda, because 1/3 of GHG-emissions is from this sector. Tax incentives on meat or carbon pricing in agri-food systems in OECD countries and China are needed to realise goals for climate, public health and deforestation. We are glad to see that others like FAO, Unilever and African Ministers now call for it too. The UAE COP28 Presidency was leading by example: 2/3 of all food catering at COP28 was vegan and CO2-food labeling was introduced.
FAO Road map
The FAO Roadmap is called Global Roadmap for Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) without Breaching the 1.5°C Threshold. It envisions transforming agri-food systems from a net emitter to a carbon sink. It calls for alternative production methods and adjusted consumption patterns (less meat, more vegetables, fruit, plant-based meat and dairy). There is a specific target to reduce emissions from livestock production by 3% annually. Goals are: agrifood systems are CO2 neutral by 2035, N2O and CH4 emissions of the agrifood systems are halved compared to 2020 (respectively by 2040 and 2045).
The Roadmap writes: “High consumption of food products with high GHG footprints in some locations contribute unnecessarily to emissions of agrifood systems”. It is clear FAO is referring to meat and dairy products that cause 80% of food related GHG emissions in European diets and consumption patterns in other rich countries. FAO also asks for changes in meat production and consumption, with a switch to more chicken meat: “Under current practices, shifting from large ruminant to small ruminant animals for meat products, and from ruminant to monogastric animals, in particular chicken, will reduce the GHG impacts of animal- food based products”. The TAPP Coalition ‘true pricing meat’ tax proposal will lead to this change. In its report ‘Sustainability Charge on meat’, environmental taxes are higher on beef and pork compared to chicken meat, but consumption in all three meat products will reduce after the introduction of taxes. The FAO Roadmap is also critized by many ngo's and the investor network FAIRR because of weak language and gaps.
Role of greenhouse gas emissions taxes on food
TAPP Coalition director Jeroom Remmers, who organized a side event at COP28 together with investor organization FAIRR and with Zitouni Ould-Dada, FAO Deputy Director of the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment 9th December: “We are glad to see in the FAO website section ‘Enabling Healthy Diets for all’ the Roadmap says: ‘Change food taxes and subsidies to provide consumers with incentives to consume healthy diets”. FAO also wrote: “Change food taxes and subsidies for food producers (primary production and processors) to reduce the incentives to produce or utilize products that are over-consumed, and to promote under-consumed products’. It is well known that consumer taxes and VAT rates can be changed in ways that overconsumption of meat products for instance is reduced and consumption of vegetables, fruit and plant-based meat and dairy is increased, also with direct subsidies, without increasing overall prices for food and without harming low income groups”. According to the third IPCC report (AR6III), ‘greenhouse gas emission taxes on food are recognized as policy options with great transformational potential regarding mitigation efforts, positive environmental effectiveness, and low implementation costs’. CO2-pricing of GHG emissions of food in retail and catering companies can help to realize climate goals in the food sector, while governments can choose ETS Systems for Agri-Food Systems or fiscal incentives and consumer taxes on products like meat, while using tax revenues for rewarding farmers to reduce GHG-emissions, reduce taxes on food products with low climate footprints, compensate low income groups and contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund. The EU Commission and countries like Denmark, New Zealand, Germany and Netherlands are studying the best ways to start with GHG-emission pricing in agri-food systems.
A roadmap to guide the implementation of the Emirates Declaration
Representing the FAO Director-General, Chief Economist Máximo Torero presented the FAO roadmap at a COP28 Ministerial Event dedicated to supporting the recently launched Emirates Declaration on agriculture, food, and climate action, which has now been endorsed by over 150 countries. Remmers: “The FAO Roadmap indeed guides countries to implement fiscal incentives to realise commitments in the Emirates Declaration on Agriculture and Climate”.
Emirates COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture and Climate
Director Remmers: 'I am glad with the COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture and Climate, because countries plegded "shifting from higher greenhouse gas-emitting practices to more sustainable production and consumption approaches" and signatories “will review their collective progress next year at COP29 with a view to considering next steps in 2025 and beyond". The wording of ‘higher greenhouse gas-emitting practices’ of course refers to meat and dairy production with very high levels of GHG-emissions per kg food product. According to a scientific report meat and dairy cause almost 20 percent of all global GHG emissions and its consumption should be reduced in high income countries and China, who consume 60% of global meat production while representing only 35% of the global population. Reducing meat consumption is one of the cheapest mitigation options. Without meat reduction policies, global climate policies will become two times more expensive towards 2050, was found in a scientific study.
African countries urging OECD countries and China to reduce meat consumption by taxes
Only 20 out of 54 African countries signed the COP28 UAE Declaration early December (Kenya, Algeria and South Africa missing for instance), while other low income G77 countries like India and many Small Island development states (SIDS) also did not sign the Declaration. This might be a signal these countries also were not satisfied with the COP28 Declaration, not focused enough on rich countries and China to reduce their GHG emissions from meat and dairy consumption and production. Before the COP28 meeting TAPP coalition sent an Open letter to all Climate ministers of G77 and SIDS countries. It seems they recognise that eating meat and dairy in huge amounts, like rich countries and China do, causes loss and damage, especially in low income countries and SIDS, like sea level rise, floods, extreme heat and loss of harvests. Nigeria, Uganda and Republic of Congo, representing 30% of African inhabitants, signed the Open letter, that was sent 10-11th December to all climate ministers of OECD countries and China. They ask for taxes on meat or other incentives, that also generate income for the new Loss and Damage Fund. A meat tax of 10 eurocent per 100g gram meat in OECD countries and China generates 147 billion euro per year, they wrote in their letter. They aso wrote:
“We believe COP28 and next COP29 and COP30 can only be successful if:
1. It includes meat consumption reduction policies in the center of programs for reducing emissions before 2030 (e.g. Methane Pledge), mitigation, climate finance, Loss and Damage, retail and meat industry pledges, especially in OECD countries and China.
2. It includes meat consumption reduction policies in the climate-health ministerial Declarations, since reducing (over)consumption of meat in OECD countries and China has huge public health benefits.
3. It includes global and national meat consumption reduction commitments for OECD and China, and the need for carbon pricing mechanisms for meat production or food consumption in Head of State and government-level declarations for Food Systems, Agriculture, and Climate Action.
4. It asks the OECD, the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, G20, China and the EU Commission to lead the way towards harmonized carbon pricing in food-systems, starting with meat.
5. It considers using the revenue of food-system GHG-emissions taxes in OECD countries and China, to fund at least 15-20% of climate finance for the Loss and Damage Fund”.
COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health
3rd December the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health was signed by 123 countries. They confirmed to “recognize the urgency of taking action on climate change, and note the benefits for health from deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, including from just transitions, lower air pollution, active mobility, and shifts to sustainable healthy diets”. TAPP Coalition is happy with this confirmation that all signatories, including the USA, European Union, UK and Brazil confirm to shift to sustainable healthy diets. This is language for a shift from animal proteins (meat, dairy) towards more plant-based proteins like vegetables, fruits, and plant-based meat and dairy.
Unilever and TAPP Coalition: we need carbon pricing agri-food systems at COP28
Unilever Global Head of Sustainability Thomas Lingard called for ‘carbon pricing in agriculture and food systems’ during an event he organized with TAPP Coalition 2nd December at the Food4Climate Pavillion. Both organisations are a partner of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC). They asked the founder of the CPLC Feike Sijbesma to lead a new High Level Committee on Carbon Pricing Agri-Food, and Sijbesma replied to be “willing to support or lead this”. CPLC is now in an evaluation phase for new programs.
Climate Resilient Food System Alliance
In an internal CRFS Alliance COP28 Advocacy Framework a reference was made to the proposals for GHG-emission pricing of food by TAPP Coalition, who became a new partner of the CRFS recently. FAO, UNEP, WFP and UNFCCC and others are partners in the Alliance.
FAO: Hidden costs of Agrifood systems at global level 10-12 trillion dollar
A recent FAO report estimates the expected value of the global hidden costs of agrifood systems in 2020 – from GHG and nitrogen emissions, water use, land-use change, unhealthy dietary patterns, undernourishment and poverty – at 12.7 trillion 2020 dollars. This value is almost 10 percent of global GDP in 2020. Per day, these costs are equivalent to 35 billion 2020 dollars. As likewise evidenced by previous analyses, these results point to the alarming environmental, social and health consequences our agrifood systems impose on society and call for urgent transformation towards sustainability across all dimensions. Environmental or health motivated taxation of food products can help to reduce the huge external hidden costs of the food system.
Image Credit: UAE Presidential Court
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Overview of all food & agriculture related COP28 Agreements and events by CRFS Alliance: see this link.
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TAPP Coalition signed this COP28 Food System Declaration together with over 200 other organisations and food companies: