Why The COP26 Menu Has People Seeing Red

It's now been three days since global leaders assembled in Glasgow to discuss crucial action points to avert the climate change crisis. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or the COP26, is taking place over the next two weeks, where countries signed to the Paris Agreement will be delving into goals that reduce emissions, protect natural habitats and restore ecosystems (via COP26).

On that note, the COP26 menu for leaders has been sourced sustainably and locally to "[reduce] food wastage" and promote "environment-friendly food production," with about 95% of the ingredients sourced from Scotland, per the U.K. Government. Thus, suppliers chosen for the event use sustainable measures for growing their food; Edinburgh's Mara Seaweed doesn't use fresh water, fertilizer or soil, and Benzies makes use of wind turbines to power their cooling storage of carrots and potatoes. However, many are noticing that the menu isn't as low-carbon or environmentally friendly as stated.

The COP26 menu is high in carbon emissions

Ironically, the menu for the COP26 has come under fire for having a high carbon footprint. Ranging from fish and chips and burgers to traditional Scottish food, the menu, which is available to see online (via A Recipe For Change), comes with an emissions rating from Swedish startup Klimato. However, the ratings aren't great.

Firstly, the menu comprises of 60% meat and dairy dishes (via Big Issue), which is definitely not a planet-forward approach. But the emissions produced by dishes are also very high: a Scottish Haggis, neeps and tatties dish and a beef burger each have 3.4 kg of CO2 emissions — the same amount of emissions from a car driving approximately 8 miles (via EPA). The pizzas are mid-range, with about 2 kg of CO2 emissions while the salads and pastas have relatively low ratings of 0.3 to 0.9 kgs. Considering that this is the menu at a world conference committed to reduce emissions, the irony isn't lost. Some animal rights activists compared it to "serving cigarettes at a lung cancer conference," per Daily Mail.