Starting this week, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will serve a meat-heavy menu to its visitors in Katowice, Poland. According to an analysis conducted by organizations Center for Biological Diversity, Farm Forward, and Brighter Green, if the 30,000 visitors choose a meat-based dish from the COP24 menu, the UN would be responsible for contributing 4,500 metric tons of greenhouse gases—the equivalent of burning the 500,000 gallons of gasoline required to fly 3,000 people from New York to Katowice. “The meat-laden menu at COP24 is an insult to the work of the conference,” Stephanie Feldstein, director of the Population and Sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. The COP24 menu includes only two plant-based options: cabbage- and mushroom-stuffed dumplings and udon noodles with vegetables. The remaining 14 dishes offered include cheeseburgers, various dumplings stuffed with meat and cheese, and beef served with smoked bacon. “If the world leaders gathering in Poland hope to address the climate crisis, they need to tackle overconsumption of meat and dairy, starting with what’s on their own plates,” Feldstein said. “That means transitioning the food served at international climate conferences to more plant-based options with smaller carbon footprints.”

In 2009, the UN’s own Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the global transportation sector combined. However, recent UN climate conference discussions have not addressed strategies related to reducing the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. “What people eat at a conference may seem like small potatoes when it comes to curbing global emissions,” Farm Forward Director of Outreach Claire Fitch said. “But if those at the forefront of global climate negotiations aren’t going to ‘walk the talk’ at the highest-level climate conference, how can we expect the rest of the world to get on board?”

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