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It’s time to tackle climate change

News Section Icon Published 22/10/2015

Research shows that if we don’t change our diets, reducing meat and dairy consumption, we will move into the danger zone of global warming.

Today (Thursday, 22nd October), the EU’s 28 Agriculture Ministers are meeting to discuss how to reduce farming’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore we have written to all the Agriculture Ministers, stressing that they must address this issue before it is too late.

A major driver of climate change

Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, stresses: “The world’s current consumption pattern of meat and dairy products is a major driver of climate change and climate change can only be effectively addressed if demand for these products is reduced.”

Experts agree that we have to keep temperature increases to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels in order to prevent global warming becoming critical. They also agree that if we are to achieve this, all sectors must reduce their GHG emissions. But as demand for livestock products continues to surge, particularly in developing countries, the emissions from food are poised to increase dramatically.

Change in diet

A major study shows that if we continue to produce food as we are, agriculture’s GHG emissions will increase by up to 77% by 2050. It concludes that its emissions can only be reduced if there is a shift to healthy diets in many parts of the world.

It is unlikely that temperature rises can be kept below the 2°C target without a reduction in global meat and dairy demand. Therefore, instead of eating lots of ‘cheap’ meat from factory farmed animals reared in appalling conditions, we should be eating less, better quality meat and milk products. This change in diet would not only have environmental benefits, but would enable farmers to move toward more extensive, humane and sustainable farming methods, such as free range or organic.

To date, livestock and diets are climate change’s forgotten sector. This must be changed if the world is to avert the disastrous consequences of exceeding the 2°C threshold.


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