This UN Agency Wants You To Eat Less Meat To Fight Climate Change. It's Run By a Top CCP Official.

Qu Dongyu uses the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization to 'promote Chinese interests,' a report found

Qu Dongyu (WTO/ Roxana Paraschiv, via Wikimedia Commons)
November 28, 2023

The United Nations agency that is pushing wealthy nations to curb their meat consumption in the name of climate change is led by a top Chinese Communist Party official who is known for using the agency to serve Beijing.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization—which counts CCP official Qu Dongyu as its director—is set to release a plan next month that calls on "the world's most-developed nations" to fight climate change by curbing "their excessive appetite for meat," Bloomberg reported Saturday. It's unlikely, however, that the directive will apply to China. The United Nations still considers China a developing country, and Qu himself has long faced criticism for using his U.N. post to advance Beijing's interests.

Qu, who for years served as the CCP's vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, was elected head of the U.N. food agency in 2019 thanks to aggressive support from China. U.N. officials have since criticized Qu for his deep connections to Beijing, accusing him of refusing to make a decision without the CCP's blessing. "Nobody actually takes him seriously: It's not him, it's China," one former official told Politico. "I'm not convinced he would make a single decision without first checking it with the capital." A group of German public broadcasters echoed that claim in a June report, which detailed how Qu "has utilized the organization to promote Chinese interests."

The Qu-led initiative to limit meat consumption in wealthy nations comes as China uses climate change to influence U.S. energy policy and cozy up to American politicians. The University of California, Berkeley's California-China Climate Institute, for example, partners with several CCP front groups that work to advance China's "global agenda." The institute has called for the increased adoption of electric vehicles, which are commonly produced using Chinese materials.

A reduction in global meat production, meanwhile, could help alleviate Chinese concerns over food security and land scarcity. China is the world's largest meat importer thanks in part to "scarcity of land for feed and forage" and "rising production costs" that have limited its production, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report published in July. China experienced large-scale food shortages in 2022, prompting protests in more than a dozen cities.

The United Nations did not return a request for comment.

The global organization is set to push the "food industry's climate transition" during the upcoming COP28 international climate summit in Dubai, according to Bloomberg. While the details of its plan to limit meat consumption are unclear, one green nonprofit urges people to eat no more than 15.7 kilograms of meat annually, given that "excess meat consumption can harm … the planet." The average American consumes roughly 124 kilograms of meat per year.

Qu will serve as head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization until 2027 after he ran unopposed for a second term earlier this year. His 2019 win was more controversial, with China facing allegations of bribing foreign officials to garner support for Qu. In one instance, a top CCP official in February 2019 traveled to Cameroon to announce the cancellation of tens of millions of dollars in debt. One month later, the African nation's candidate for Qu's position withdrew his candidacy.

Qu has also faced criticism for his "sluggish and mealy-mouthed response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine," according to Politico. Qu has referred to the war as a "conflict" and downplayed its impact on global food supply in an alleged attempt to "spare China's ally … from criticism."

The Biden administration has nonetheless kept taxpayer dollars flowing to Qu's agency. President Joe Biden last year announced it would funnel $120 million effort to the agency to support "climate resilience."