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A 2019 report by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group examined consumption-based carbon emissions in its network of cities in six categories, including food, travel and clothing.
The report highlighted progressive and ambitious targets to reduce emissions, but said it was not advocating that cities meet the ambitious targets.
We could find no evidence that any U.S. cities have agreed to ban meat, dairy, new clothes or private cars.
A baseless claim is distorting a 4-year-old report from a climate advocacy group, asserting that major U.S. cities have agreed to ban some widely used staples of modern life.
"America’s C40 cities will ban meat, dairy, new clothes, private cars by 2030," read a an Aug. 27 Instagram post's headline.
A caption accompanying the post said, "Fourteen major American cities signed onto a #globalist climate agreement with a truly #dystopian goal for the country’s immediate future that includes eliminating meat and dairy consumption, private vehicle ownership, air travel, and clothing purchases."
The caption said the "C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group plans to accomplish this vision by 2030." The post referred readers to a website called Valuetainment.com, where we found an article with the same headline.
This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The claim refers to a 2019 report from the C40 group, which describes itself as a global network of nearly 100 city mayors united to confront climate change. (The group is incorporated in Delaware and has an office in New York City.) But the post distorts the report — it does not say U.S. cities have signed onto these bans.
C40 advocates for government action to stem climate change’s effects. It is chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is president of its board of directors. Fourteen large U.S. cities are voluntary members, including Chicago, Miami and New York.
The report said consumption-based emissions from the world’s largest 100 cities made up about 10% of the world’s global emissions. The report also singled out six areas in which cities, residents and businesses could work to lower those emissions: food, construction, clothing, vehicles, aviation and electronics, C40 said in a 2019 news release.
The report, however, does not argue for a banning meat, dairy, new clothes and private cars, as the Instagram post claimed. It said it lays out "future scenarios to show how consumption-based emissions in C40 cities may evolve if no action is taken, if limited action is taken and if ambitious action is taken."
"The report is an analysis of consumption-based emissions in C40 cities, not a plan for cities to adopt, let alone a legally binding treaty," C40 spokesperson Grace Chege said. "It's up to individuals to make their personal lifestyle choices, including what type of food to eat and what type of clothing they prefer."
The Instagram post linked to an article that highlighted a portion of the report that mentions an "ambitious target" of no meat and dairy or private cars by 2030. The claim was echoed by articles in conservative media, social media posts, a Fox Business show and by conservative podcaster Glenn Beck.
But these claims mislead about what the target in the report means.
A report section about how cities can lower consumption emissions mentioned two target levels for each intervention in the six categories.
One was a "progressive target level," that was "based on research that identifies the threshold of resource efficiency and behavioural change potential." A second was an "ambitious target level" that was "based on a future vision of resource-efficient production and extensive changes in consumer choices."
The report’s language made clear it wasn’t suggesting cities adopt the ambitious targets:
"This report does not advocate for the wholesale adoption of these more ambitious targets in C40 cities; rather, they are included to provide a set of reference points that cities, and other actors, can reflect on when considering different emission-reduction alternatives and long-term urban visions."
In a section about food, the report found that food emissions made up 13% of total consumption-based emissions in C40 cities. About three-quarters of those were from meat and dairy. If C40 cities changed consumption habits in line with the progressive targets (16 kg of meat and 90 kg of dairy per person per year), the food category’s emissions could be cut by 51% by 2050, and 9% more under the ambitious targets (no meat or dairy).
Clothing and textiles made up about 4% of emissions in C40 cities, while private transport made up about 8%. The report said interventions could be consumers limiting their clothing purchases and buying fewer new cars.
A March 2023 article from C40 described the report as an "analysis, not a plan."
"In practice, these ideas aren’t intended for every person, community or city," the article said. "To successfully transition to a lower-carbon economy, cities must balance their ambition with what’s financially, technologically and culturally feasible."
A supplemental C40 report in 2019 specifically about food said city governments can’t "directly change food consumption" by their residents, but can influence the availability and affordability of foods and work with businesses and educators "to (effect) change." It suggested that cities make healthier, plant-based food a cheaper and more attractive alternative.
We could find no credible news reports that any of the U.S. cities in the C40 group have announced plans to eliminate meat or dairy or private car ownership.
An Instagram post claimed 14 U.S. cities are planning to ban meat, dairy, new clothes and private cars by 2030.
The post distorts a 2019 C40 Cities report, which identified six sectors in which cities could intervene to reduce consumption-based climate emissions. The report’s language clearly stated that the "ambitious targets" of no meat, dairy, private cars and limited new clothing were not recommended policies but reference points. And a C40 spokesperson described the report as an analysis, not a plan.
There’s no evidence that U.S. cities have proposed banning any of these things. We rate the claim False.
Valuetainment, America’s C40 Cities Will Ban Meat, Dairy, New Clothes, Private Cars by 2030, Aug. 25, 2023
Grace Chege, spokesperson for the C40 Cities, email interview, Aug. 28, 2023
C40 Cities, press release, New Research Shows How Urban Consumption Drives Global Emissions, June 12, 2019
C40 Cities, The future of urban consumption in a 1.5°C world, June 2019
C40 Cities, The future of urban consumption in a 1.5°C world, Headline report, June 2019
C40 Cities, A spotlight on consumption-based emissions, March 3, 2023
C40 Cities, Mapped: Cities with a climate action plan, accessed Aug. 29, 2023
C40 Cities, In Focus: Addressing food-related consumption-based emissions in C40 Cities, June 2019
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