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Former UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres at the Collision 2019 conference. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Christiana Figueres, an architect of the Paris climate agreement, will be joining the board of alternative protein startup Impossible Foods, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Figueres's move is a sign of the growing importance of the alt-protein sector, and an acknowledgement that solving climate change needs to include addressing food and agriculture, as well as energy.

What they're saying: "“[Figueres's] experience and insights into working with the global community on climate change solutions will be invaluable in our fight to save the planet,” says Impossible Foods CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown.

Background: Figueres, a former Costa Rican diplomat, oversaw the UN's main climate change body, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), from 2010 to 2016, including the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement.

  • Since leaving the UN, she's served on the board of the Spanish energy and infrastructure company Acciona, and founded the environmental advocacy group Global Optimism.

Details: Figueres tells Axios she sees Impossible Foods — which makes plant-based protein products, including the Impossible Burger — and the food industry more generally as "one of the main levers of change" on global warming.

  • "The consumption of animal products — and especially the consumption of beef — is detrimental to personal health as well as planetary health, because of embedded deforestation," she says. "Impossible Foods is a company that understands the health argument and the climate argument."
  • Figueres also views alternative protein products like the Impossible Burger — which aims to replicate the taste and feel of meat without the beef — as part of a larger case that carbon emissions can be cut without demanding untenable levels of consumer sacrifice.
"Climate action isn't just a burden. You can eat protein, but do so in a healthy way."
— Christiana Figueres

What to watch: Whether Impossible Foods can continue to bring its price down to help compete with conventional meat.

  • Last week the company reduced wholesale prices by about 15%, making the lowest wholesale price for the Impossible Burger $6.80 a pound, compared to $5.32 a pound for beef patties.

The bottom line: With the plant-based meat market projected to grow $85 billion by 2030 according to one analysis, consumers seem ready to be persuaded.

Go deeper

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

2 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.