World Resources Institute today announced that PepsiCo, the University of Texas at Austin Housing and Dining, ISS World Services A/S and healthcare organizations Providence and the Mount Sinai Health System have committed to serve more climate-friendly food through its Cool Food Pledge — a growing movement of workplaces, hotels, universities, hospitals and restaurants aiming to slash food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.
“Agriculture accounts for at least a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. The recent IPCC report lays bare a scary future without more action. To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, people have to eat differently. It’s that simple,” said Edwina Hughes, Head of Cool Food at World Resources Institute. “The groups signed on to Cool Food are showing that dining is where sustainability efforts come alive. It’s incredibly exciting because the potential impact is huge.”
Globally, producing animal-based foods accounts for two-thirds of agricultural GHG emissions and more than three-quarters of agricultural land use, while plant-based foods generally have lower environmental impacts. Per gram of protein, beef uses 20 times more land and generates 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions than beans, for example. People don’t need to go vegetarian to eat sustainably. According to WRI’s research, the average American could cut their diet-related environmental impacts by nearly half just by eating less animal-based foods and more plants.
“At PepsiCo we are taking bold action to help build a more sustainable food system. This begins with the actions we take in our daily lives at home and at work. In line with our pep+ goal of net zero emissions by 2040, we are excited to introduce Cool Food in our workplaces, highlight the relationship between food and climate, and offer our associates more plant-forward options,” said Cesc Bordas, SVP Global Brands Sustainability and Purpose at PepsiCo.
“Our job is to provide students ways to take part in solving climate change,” said Alejandra Marquez, Sustainability Coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin. “Offering climate-friendly dining helps students and faculty live climate-friendly lifestyles, which is one area we are focused on.”
Data indicate that if current Cool Food Pledge signatories collectively hit the 25% reduction target by 2030, it would reduce annual food-related emissions by 1,314,572 t CO2e — the equivalent to taking roughly 285,000 U.S. passenger vehicles off the road.
Achieving this ambitious goal doesn’t require dining facilities to reinvent the wheel. WRI has produced a playbook identifying 23 best-bet interventions based on behavioral science, ranging from offering more plant-based dishes to using more appetizing dish names. In January, WRI released research finding that simply adding environmental messaging to a menu can double customers’ ordering of lower-carbon plant-based menu items.
“Our commitment to health extends to a healthy planet. By joining Cool Food, we are part of an exciting movement in the health care sector to consider the well-being of our patients and staff even after they leave our hospital,” said Christina McNeilis, MPH, CPH, Associate Director of Corporate Sustainability, Environmental Health and Safety for the Mount Sinai Health System. “Just as we utilize cutting-edge medicine, we’re excited to also use the most innovative learnings from behavioral science to help our patients, staff and visitors.”
“As a comprehensive healthcare organization, we believe in health for a better world, and that includes caring for our planet. Today, that includes serving food that’s low carbon and better for the planet,” said Mark Dunn, Executive Director, Food and Nutrition Services at Providence. “Over the coming months, we’re excited to work closely with Cool Food to roll out the program to more of our sites so we can have a significant impact for the communities we serve and the planet we all rely on.”
“Our overall ambition is to join the dots between climate, health and nature – an interconnected crisis to which we believe food can provide a powerful solution,” said Hamish Cook, Head of Global Food Services, ISS World Services A/S. “This is why a key focus in 2022 will be on education, so all of our chefs globally are trained in serving more sustainable food.”
The Cool Food Pledge is part of WRI’s ground-breaking Cool Food initiative that aims to effectively address climate change by helping scale climate-friendly dining. Launched in 2019, Cool Food now has 60 member organizations, which together serve approximately 2 billion meals each year. In addition to the Cool Food Pledge, Cool Food has launched the “Cool Food Meals” badge. First appearing on Panera Bread’s menus in 2020, the badge identifies dishes with a lower carbon footprint to help consumers decide what to eat based on the climate impact of a dish, just as they would a nutrition label.
How The Pledge Works
Pledge: Signatories commit to a collective target of reducing diet-related GHG emissions associated with the food they serve by 25% by 2030 relative to 2015 — a level of ambition in line with keeping global warming below 1.5°C. The Cool Food team advises signatories on how to gather the necessary data and monitor progress.
Plan: The Cool Food team helps signatories and their catering companies develop plans for serving more climate-friendly food while meeting other dining-related targets (e.g. number of diners, financial performance, nutrition). The Cool Food Pledge also connects signatories or their catering companies with a network of organizations producing innovative products, solutions and training to achieve more sustainable diets. Cool Food signatories are able to share their experiences and learn from others.
Promote: The Cool Food team provides inspiring messaging that signatories can use to support existing sustainability campaigns. The collective performance of companies against the GHG target will be published annually.
Press release from WRI’s Resource Institute.
© 2022 World Resources Institute
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