Environmentalists from Plant Based Treaty say they were shocked to find that a €0.50 surcharge is being levied on oat and soy milk at coffee booths around the recent Bonn Climate Conference, which took place earlier this month.
The campaign group have called on theUNFCCC and World Conference Center to end a controversial surcharge, which they say effectively incentivises attendees to consume dairy products with a typically significantly higher carbon footprint.
Milla Widmer from Plant Based Treaty took to Instagram to express her shock at the charge: “I am at the @unitednations climate conference in #Bonn and guess what: had to pay 50 cents extra for oat milk! When I complained about it, the employees made fun of me, not really understanding why I was so upset.”
Plant-based milks have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than dairy milk, according to a major 2018 study from University of Oxford, and use significantly less water and land than dairy.
Tim Werner, Plant Based Treaty scientific advisor, says, “Climate conferences should not be providing financial incentives for delegates to consume dairy, which is fueling the climate crisis, deforestation and draining freshwater supplies. The UN must end the plant-based tax; if there are going to be surcharges, they should be applied on products containing polluting meat and dairy, or better yet, make climate conferences vegan.”
Nilgun Engin, Plant Based Treaty campaigner, says: “Plant-based milk surcharges fuel unfairness and inequality because lactose intolerance is more prevalent among people of colour. Plant-based milks, which are better for the planet should be accessible to all.”
Plant Based Treaty, which has achieved UN observer status, held a press conference yesterday on 13 June 2023, at the Bonn Conference, calling for a global treaty to address the impact of food systems on Earth’s vital support systems and a shift to a plant-based food system.
At the weekend, a new petition was launched calling for climate conferences, including the upcoming COP28 in Dubai, to switch to plant-based catering. It has attracted almost 7,000 signatures in the first few days. The petition refers to a 2020 report by Michael Clarke, which says, “Even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from the global food system alone would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C and difficult even to realize the 2°C target. Thus, major changes in how food is produced are needed if we want to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”