Cool food cuts carbon by 4.6%

Members of the Cool Food Pledge cut greenhouse gas emissions by 4.6% overall and 12% per plate between 2015 and 2019.

New data from those involved in the pledge – a group of 31 restaurants, cities, hospitals and companies that have committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food they serve by 25% by 2030 – shows total food-related emissions from the 935 million meals served by the group were a shade over four million tonnes.

Animal-based foods accounted for 87% of the group’s total emissions profile, with ruminant meats responsible for 67%. Plant-based foods accounted for 13%.

Indeed, the 4.6% reduction in emissions from the baseline was due to a shift in the mix of foods purchased: ruminant meat purchases fell by 10% while those of plant-based foods jumped 12%.

In a blog accompanying the data, experts at the World Resources Institute noted that though attention is often on “unusual innovations” like cricket crackers, its pledge members are showing that “easy” changes tend to have a big difference. “Changes in menu language or the creation of delicious plant-centered dishes can greatly increase the uptake of sustainable offerings,” they wrote.

The shift to plants needs to accelerate though, with members missing their 6.7% reduction target. If the group can hit the 25% target by 2030, it would reduce annual emissions by just over one million tonnes.

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