Spotted – Rishi Sunak EATING THE EARTH Ahead of COP28 Climate Conference

| 1 December 2023
minute reading time
Stunt on Parliament Square with Rishi Eating the Earth

Ahead of the COP28 climate conference that started on 30 November in Dubai, Viva! took to Parliament Square to tell our world leaders to STOP EATING THE EARTH.

On Saturday 25 November, Rishi Sunak was spotted greedily devouring the planet, representing our Government’s failure to include vegan diets as part of the solution in climate pledges. As blood oozed from our dying Earth, Viva! supporters held our banners high against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, demanding that world leaders “Stop Eating the Earth” in order to save our planet and wildlife.

Representatives from numerous vegan and environmental organisations inspired the onlooking crowds with their rallying cries of a needed transition to plant-based diets in order to protect our future, through a series of speeches on the day.

Viva!’s demand was clear: put the topic of diet on the table and finally recognise plant-based food’s crucial role within our environmental commitments. 



The State of our Planet

A report by the UN Climate Change last year highlighted how the current pledges to the Paris Climate Agreement are insufficient to limit warming global temperature rise to 1.5°C before pre-industrial levels, beyond which we will be tipped into catastrophic and potentially irreversible climate impacts.

In fact, we are currently on track for around 2.5°C warming by the end of the century.

This will bring deadly consequences. We are already experiencing the devastation of the climate crisis: unprecedented wildfires across Europe this summer, catastrophic floods, soaring heatwaves, the hottest July on record, declining wildlife. These impacts are a result of having reached just 1.1°C warming. Increasing temperatures by 2.5°C – this threatens the lives of us all.

One of the major contributors to this environmental emergency is the consumption of meat, dairy, fish and eggs – it’s fuelling the climate crisis, being responsible for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions produced, and it’s the number one driver of wildlife loss worldwide.

Despite the enormous role that meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption is playing in these crises, there is no mention of a transition to plant-based diets as a solution to the climate crisis in any of our environmental commitments.

Rishi Eating the Earth
Rishi Eating the Earth

Why Viva! is taking action

For years, there has been a consensus across the scientific community that animal agriculture is having a devastating impact on our planet. Going vegan is the single biggest action an individual can take to reduce their impact on the planet. A recent Oxford study highlights the significant role the food on our plate has for the fate of our planet and the future of humanity. It found that by switching to a vegan diet, an individual can reduce their food related climate-heating emissions by up to 75 per cent and their impact on wildlife by 66 per cent.

Given the impact our diet can have, you would assume that there must be some mention of diets in our environment targets. A study by Chatham House from 2022 begs to differ. They found that out of the 193 signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement, only 12 nations name emissions from farmed animals in their pledges, two mention dietary change (Costa Rica and Ethiopia), and none mention a reduction in livestock. This lack of recognition is also the case when we look at the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, which mentions nowhere in its policies a transition to a low-carbon diet, ie one that that doesn’t include meat or dairy. And back in September, Rishi Sunak officially denounced any plans for a meat tax, which would have been a crucial first step to help shape consumers’ shopping habits away from animal products.

Conference of the Parties (COP) is the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, where world leaders come together to discuss the supposed ‘solutions’ to tackling the climate crisis and its impacts. In previous years, the key solution – a transition to plant-based diets – has been omitted. To add insult to injury, a recent document has revealed that big meat companies and lobby groups are attending COP28 equipped with their pro-meat communication plan, which promotes meat as ‘sustainable nutrition’ that can be beneficial to the environment.

Methane from agriculture alone (the majority of which comes from animal farming) will push the world beyond a 1.5°C temperature rise. The science is clear. The only way that we can combat the climate and ecological crises is to include a plant-based diet transition as part of the solution.

By not just refusing to recognise the impact of meat and dairy but also giving a platform to the meat industry at the biggest climate change conference of the year, our world leaders are governing the death of humanity. Our world is burning, wildlife is on the brink of extinction and people are dying because of climate inaction.


Who Joined us on the Day?

Viva! are not alone in calling for this needed action.

On Saturday, we were joined by eight amazing groups taking a stand for animals and our environment by asking the Government to STOP eating the Earth.

Picture of all groups who attended the stunt
Picture of all groups who are in the stunt
Viva! speech at demo
Picture with Four Paws

Plant Based Treaty gave a speech on their campaign to make COP28 vegan, Plant-Based Universities talked about how they are tackling the research institutions that have the power to educate and influence widescale change, and We The Free looked at the power that conversations can have for animal advocacy.

We also heard from Animal Aid and PETA about the devastating role animal agriculture has on both the planet and farmed animals. Also in attendance was Fossil Free London, talking about their ongoing fight with the fossil fuel industry, and Four Paws and Vegan Land Movement. We are so grateful to all who attended the rally. This is an emergency, and one we must take a stand against together.

What our Government continues to refuse to acknowledge is that the climate and ecological crisis are a matter of life and death for humanity and the role that meat and dairy play in this demise. Without a healthy planet, we have no future. The climate impacts that the world is already experiencing will only continue to worsen if we continue to sit idly by and not address what’s on our plates and the difference it can make. This COP28, world leaders need to finally put the topic of meat and dairy on the table to save our planet.

There is still time to take action. Order a climate demo pack here or share Viva!’s Eating the Earth campaign video.

To learn more about the impact that meat, dairy, fish and egg consumption has on the planet, visit our Vegan Now and Eating the Earth webpages.

About the author
Jasmine Clark
Jasmine joined Viva! in 2022 as our Environment Campaigner. She previously worked in communications and project work for small environmental non-profits and has an interdisciplinary knowledge of environmental and sustainability issues, from both her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and her masters in Environment, Culture and Society. Jasmine will be heading up our environment campaigns and raising awareness of the impact that livestock farming is having on our planet. When not working Jasmine loves being outside, especially anything to do with water, falling off her bike and attempting to work out new ways to cook up vegetables.

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