The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is held from 2 to 14 December in Katowice, Poland. More than 20 thousand representatives from 190 countries take part in the event, and they include politicians, as well as members from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the scientific community and business sector.
As one of the participating NGOs, the Tzu Chi Foundation plans to hold ten press conferences to share various topics with the global representatives. A Tzu Chi booth that promotes vegetarianism and environmental protection has also been set up onsite.
The Foundation is represented by 15 delegates, who hail from Taiwan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Lin Mei Feng, a Tzu Chi delegate from Germany, said that the Secretary General of the United Nations has highlighted that the issue of climate change and global warming is a serious imperative. Thus, the collective efforts of various governments and civil organisations are required to counter the impact. As an environmental protection advocate, Tzu Chi plays a very important role worldwide. Supported by people at the grassroots level, the Foundation not only promotes vegetarianism, but also various other aspects of environmental protection to residents in communities. It hopes to make environmental education more widespread across the world.
Plant-based meals for health and the environment
Two organisations that promote vegetarianism were invited to the first press conference hosted by the Tzu Chi Foundation. The event aimed to share about the positive impact of a plant-based diet on the environment and our health. Tzu Chi’s delegates spoke of the Foundation’s efforts and achievements in promoting its global Ethical Eating Day since 2014.
“We hope to collect 3 million pledges for our Ethical Eating Day campaign by 2020. Hopefully, through actions and a change in people’s mindset, there will be more love and efforts to conserve our planet,” said Qiu Yao Yang, a delegate from Tzu Chi USA.
One of the NGOs, which hails from Germany, shared that a plant-based diet not only helps to conserve the environment, but it is also very effective in improving health. He stressed on the urgent need to introduce vegetarian meals in schools. A representative from the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) highlighted that there are now about 41 million children aged 5 years and below, who are overweight in western countries due to their predominantly meat diet.
Curbing our gastronomic desire to maintain an optimum body weight and adopting a plant-based diet are some of the ways that we can reduce our carbon footprints. Caroline, a representative from Brighter Green, pointed out that a meat-based meal generates four times more greenhouse gases than the average meal. She further opined that since meat production utilizes 7 times more land and requires double the amount of water, future COP organisers should consider providing less meat options at the COP conference.
An estimated 28,000 delegates are attending the COP24 this year. If these delegates are able to take the lead in supporting and consuming plant-based meals, they will set a very good example in reducing carbon emissions.
Learn more about our philosophy on environmental protection from Tzu Chi’s presentation at COP24 in Dec 2018: