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Residents Urge Bristol City Council to Take Climate Action By Switching to Plant-Based Catering




  • At the 09/01/24 Full Council meeting, two Bristol residents and supporters of the Plant-based Councils campaign urged Bristol City Council to address accelerating climate change by implementing three key plant-based solutions [1].

  • A group of local residents showed their support by holding up a banner inside the council chamber. 

  • The campaigners urged  Bristol to follow the lead of Oxfordshire County and Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich City Councils, all of which have voted switch to plant-based catering. 


Bristol resident and English teacher Jenny Ross spoke at the Bristol City Full Council meeting on Tuesday 09/01/24 [2]. In her statement to the council, she stated that 2023 was the hottest year on record [3]. This is impacted massively by animal farming which is “one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the single biggest cause of land use change, which makes the impacts of a warming world all the worse” [4]. She highlighted that the Council’s own ‘Bristol Good Food 2030’ document states that “reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to mitigating severe climate change impact” and urged the council to act on this [5].


Fellow Bristol resident Pamela Patterson also gave a statement at the full council meeting, where she outlined three key ways the council can take climate action and reach its own goal of being net zero by 2030 [6]. Speaking to the full council, Pamela, a nurse from Bristol, said:


“The government's Climate Change Committee has said ‘we must reduce the amount of meat we eat by 20–50% in order for the UK to reach net zero by 2050’. This is a significant goal, and one that the council can support in three ways:


  • Committing to 100% plant-based food in its internal catering.

  • Making plant-based menu options the default option wherever the council has influence.

  • Promoting plant-based eating to residents of the city and removing meat and dairy advertising in bus stop shelters.


These are not, as the mayor suggested in December, about 'forcing people to eat particular foods'. They are instead practical and realistic steps that would show that the city is serious about its claim to be world-leading in terms of responding to climate change.”



Jenny Ross (left) and Pam Patterson (right) presenting their statements to the full council.


Several other local residents attended in support, holding a Plant-Based Councils banner. The group has been making regular appearances at full council meetings, usually standing throughout the public gallery with placards urging the Council to debate a plant-based motion to address the climate crisis. The residents are meeting with supportive councillors, Heather Mack and Martin Fodor from the Green party, and Andrew Varney of the Liberal Democrats. Currently three such motions detailing plant-based solutions to the climate crisis are waiting to be heard in a full council meeting. The campaigners are urging councillors to prioritise these enough that they can be debated by the full council. 




Plant-based Councils campaigners standing with a banner inside the council chamber while Pamela read her statement. Photo: Bristol City Council (screenshot)


Five councils in the UK have voted in favour of shifting to 100% plant-based catering. In December 2022, Exeter City Council voted to serve exclusively plant-based food at their council meetings and events [7]. They also plan to add more plant-based options to menus at council-run external sites, such as leisure centres, and to showcase plant-based food at external events. Last month, Camden’s Culture and Environment Scrutiny Committee came out in support of 100% plant-based catering for internal meetings and events [8].


Plant-based Councils, an Animal Rising campaign, is a national initiative of local residents who are pushing for their councils to adopt 100% plant-based catering [1]. The group claims that local authorities have a responsibility to follow the current scientific consensus, which acknowledges the environmental, health and cost benefits of plant-based meals over those containing meat and dairy. The campaign is active in over 45 councils, with the group encouraging interested residents to sign up to run a local campaign.


ENDS.


Word count: 690


For more information or further comments, please contact info@plantbasedcouncils.org 


NOTES TO EDITORS:


[1]  The Plant-based Councils campaign aims to address the climate emergency, starting with the food on our plates; working with UK councils to encourage the switch from emission-heavy food to plant-based options which are better for our health, the planet, and reducing the impact of the cost of living crisis.


[2]  Bristol City Council, meeting of full council, 9th January 2024: agenda, public forum document and recording of first statement  


[3] The 2023 Annual Climate Summary: Global Climate Highlights 2023: https://climate.copernicus.eu/global-climate-highlights-2023 


[4] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) (2018), Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model, Version 2.0, Revision 5, July 2018: https://foodandagricultureorganization.shinyapps.io/GLEAMV3_Public/ 



[6] Bristol City Council, meeting of full council, 9th January 2024: recording of second question 


[7]  Exeter City Council votes to serve 100% plant-based food at catered meetings: https://news.exeter.gov.uk/council-pledges-to-raise-awareness-of-the-benefits-of-plant-based-food/


[8]   Camden Councillors Agree to 100% Plant-Based Catering: https://www.plantbasedcouncils.org/post/camden-councillors-agree-to-100-plant-based-catering 


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