Ahead of the C40 World Mayors Summit, which ran 19-21 October in Buenos Aires, a coalition of 200 businesses called for ‘accelerated action’ on plant-based food solutions to the climate emergency.

Addressed to 100 mayors, the open letter – signed by groups and businesses such as Plant Based Treaty, Compassion in World Farming, ProVeg International, Veg Climate Network, Better Food Foundation, Future Food 4 Climate and Humane Society International – recommends policy tools to implement 19 best practices for a plant-based food transition.

Research has identified that accelerating the switch towards plant-based diets is the single most impactful action a city can take if it is to reach C40 environmental targets – which include lowering the per capita meat consumption from 58kg to 16kg by 2030. The groups note that ‘cities play a key role in shifting food norms in their communities and making veg foods more accessible’; as such, the coalition urged cities to ‘use their collaborative power to make advances on their climate commitments’.

Nital Jethalal, president of VegTO and co-chair of Veg Climate Network, says with public support strong now is the time for mayors of C40 cities – especially those in the global north – to ‘act boldly and immediately to move our food systems to plant-based’.

C40 cities have a responsibility to model a sustainable food system by following New York … and other trailblazers with their own plant-based commitments

Allie Molinaro, campaigns manager, Compassion in World Farming, says: “With the renewable energy transition now underway in most major cities, reducing over-reliance on animal-sourced food is the next frontier in tackling climate change. If C40 leaders are serious about upholding the Paris Agreement, they must turn their attention toward transitioning to a plant-based food system.”

Anita Krajnc, global campaign coordinator for Plant Based Treaty, adds: “C40 cities are considered leaders on local climate action and can accelerate much needed progress by implementing best practices such as serving plant-based food at council events and using every policy tool at their disposal including public information campaigns, procurement, subsidies, investment, divestment, taxation, community gardens, and fruit and vegetable prescription programs.”

In New York – one of 40 cities to have signed the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration to date – hospitals now serve plant-based meals ‘by default’, claiming a 95% satisfaction rate among patients. Laura Lee Cascada, campaigns director, Better Food Foundation, comments: “New York City boldly revealed how it’s flipping the script on harmful food norms, serving plant-based foods … across an entire public institution – its hospitals. As global climate leaders, all C40 cities have a responsibility to model a sustainable food system by following New York, Berkeley, Amsterdam and other trailblazers with their own plant-based commitments.”