Shire Notes with Councillor Sue Abbott

Please note: These Shire Notes are not the views of the Council, the Mayor or the General Manager.

We need to talk about meat ... and it sounds like many mayors from across the world are doing just that.

Two weeks ago mayors from 14 of the world's biggest cities pledged to roll out the "Planetary Health Diet" by signing onto the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration at the global climate summit of mayors in Copenhagen on Thursday 11th October 2019.

The Planetary Health Diet is a diet designed to cut greenhouse emissions by significantly reducing the amount of meat we consume. These mayors intend to initially implement this meat reduction programme in schools, hospitals and other public buildings. As reported widely in mainstream media, this means that these visionary mayors from cities including London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo, Barcelona and Los Angeles, are bravely embarking to oversee a program where adults will eat up to 300 grams of meat a week (essentially two steaks a week). That is quite a plan!

It is heartening to see that the mayoral signatories are pro-actively acknowledging that our diets are not just hurting our health but are also hurting our planetary ecosystems that support all life including human.

We know that food is among the largest drivers of global environmental change contributing to climate change, biodiversity loss, freshwater use, interference with the global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, and land-system change. And we also know via research, that without substantial changes, greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector will increase by 38% by 2050. The world is in a climate crisis, and we are seeing catastrophic droughts, floods, and desertification, all of which in turn are reducing our ability to feed everyone on the planet.

Given woeful inaction by state and federal governments in relation to doing anything about climate emergency, yet again responsibility for safeguarding communities is falling to local governments. And once again mayors are showing the way on what we can do. The mayor of Paris and C40 Chairperson, Anne Hidalgo, said: "As we are facing a climate crisis, I am convinced rethinking our approach on food is crucial for a long-term and perennial ecological transition".

It is a conversation we also need to have here in the Upper Hunter. Can we do it?