In the ongoing battle against climate change, cities emerge as pivotal players in adopting and advocating sustainable practices. Fourteen prominent cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, have ] embarked on a groundbreaking initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The core focus of this initiative is a commitment to drastically reduce meat and dairy consumption, as well as to minimize private vehicle usage by the year 2030.1 Aligned with the C40 Cities Declaration; this effort signifies a significant step forward in the fight against climate change.
Eating for a Greener Future: The C40 Cities ‘Planetary Health Diet’
The power of dietary choices in combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be overstated. Research has shown that by adopting a ‘Planetary Health Diet,’ we could potentially slash emissions associated with our food consumption by more than 60%.2 This revolutionary diet not only promises substantial environmental benefits but also has the potential to save an astounding 11 million lives each year. The ‘Planetary Health Diet’ concept revolves around consuming balanced and nutritious meals that respect cultural, geographical, and demographic diversity while limiting meat and dairy intake to around 16 kg and 90 kg per person per year, respectively. This shift towards a more sustainable dietary pattern, heavily based on plant-derived foods, can potentially improve our global food system.
C40 Cities Declaration: Paving the Way for Change
At the forefront of this transformative movement is the C40 Cities Declaration, a monumental commitment made by 14 U.S. cities to reshape their urban food systems. Mayors of these cities, including influential figures like New York’s Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti, have pledged to collaborate closely with their citizens to achieve the ‘Planetary Health Diet’ by 2030.3 This commitment entails leveraging procurement powers to reshape food sourcing strategies, introducing policies that foster accessibility to affordable and sustainable food choices, and significantly reducing the staggering issue of food loss and waste. Collectively, these cities serve a staggering 500 million meals annually, highlighting the immense potential to positively impact millions of lives through these conscientious efforts.
Cities are increasingly becoming the focal points of climate action, influencing consumption patterns on both local and global scales. As of 2017, urban food consumption contributed to approximately 13% of total greenhouse gas emissions in C40 cities. What’s more, the consumption of animal-sourced foods accounted for around 75% of these emissions. This data underscores the urgency for transformative change in the way we approach our diets. While cities have already made substantial strides in curbing emissions within their geographical boundaries, a comprehensive strategy considering consumption-based emissions is imperative. This entails focusing on key consumption categories, including food, buildings and infrastructure, clothing, private transport, aviation, and electronics.
A Glimpse into the Future
The commitment of these 14 U.S. cities to the C40 Cities Declaration signifies not just a collective promise but a blueprint for a more sustainable and resilient future. By embracing the ‘Planetary Health Diet’ and working towards reduced emissions tied to food consumption and private vehicle use, these cities are setting an inspiring precedent for urban centers worldwide. Their determination to improve the urban food systems highlights cities’ indispensable role in the global fight against climate change. As we approach the year 2030, the success of this initiative could serve as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that meaningful climate action is possible through collaboration, determination, and forward-thinking policies.
The ambitious commitment of 14 U.S. cities to the C40 Cities Declaration represents a critical step forward in addressing climate change through sustainable practices. With their focus on adopting the ‘Planetary Health Diet’ and reducing emissions associated with food consumption and private transportation, these cities are setting an example for global urban centers. They are pioneering a more sustainable, healthier, and resilient future by leveraging their influence and collaboration. As other cities take note of their efforts, we may witness a transformative shift towards a more sustainable and climate-conscious world.
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- “14 cities commit to sustainable food policies that will address the global climate emergency.” C40 Cities. October 10, 2019
- “Cities are leading the way towards a more sustainable food system.” One Earth. Zachary Tofias
- “The future of urban consumption in a 1.5°C world.” C40 Knowledge Hub