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Hypocrisy at UN Climate Summit? Meat served as report urges beef cuts

By Jake Beardslee · December 8, 2023

In brief…

  • COP28 touts one-third of food vendors having meat as an achievement in sustainability
  • Critics argue limiting beef unfairly impacts food availability and affordability for vulnerable populations
  • UN climate summit offering meat options despite preparing report urging reduced beef intake
The UN climate conference is serving meat dishes from numerous vendors while simultaneously preparing a report that will call for beef consumption to be limited in higher-intake countries to curb emissions, provoking backlash from the cattle industry and concerns about global food insecurity.  Serine Ben Brahim/Kim Hansen/Wikimedia

The ongoing United Nations climate conference in Dubai is offering numerous meat options from vendors serving “juicy beef,” “slabs of succulent meat,” and “melt-in-your-mouth BBQ,” even as it prepares to release a report calling for reduced beef consumption to curb emissions.

The summit touts having one-third of its food vendors provide meat as an achievement in providing “environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, delicious, and nutritious food.” However, this seems at odds with the upcoming U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that will reportedly “recommend nations that ‘over-consume meat’ to limit their consumption.” The U.N. has long urged less meat eating, claiming “animal-based diets…have a high impact on our planet.”

FAO stated its “core goal is to achieve [Sustainable Development Goal 2]; Zero Hunger” with climate-friendly food systems. But numerous COP28 vendors still offer items like “unbelievable smoked meats.”

“The hypocrisy of the global elites never ceases to amaze,” said Rep. Mike Flood (R-Neb.)! member of the Congressional Beef Caucus, to Fox News Digital. “COP28 putting meat on the menu just proves that we need beef and all kinds of meat to help feed the world.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also critiqued potential U.N. recommendations against meat. VP Ethan Lane said “solutions that seek to reduce meat consumption are misguided and will only lead to limited consumer choice and higher food prices.” At a time of global malnutrition, he argued, reducing high-quality protein like beef “would disproportionately impact consumers who can ill-afford to pay more.”