U.N. flags need to cut meat to curb land use impact on global warming

U.N. flags need to cut meat to curb land use impact on global warming (Reuters)

  • According to a recent report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global meat consumption must be reduced to curb global warming and alleviate strains on stretched land and water resources.
  • As human use directly affects more than 70% of the global ice-free land surface, plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced foods could free up several million square kilometres of land by 2050 and cut harmful emissions.
  • Last year’s report called for rapid changes across society to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, while this year’s report states that “[t]he window for making these changes is closing fast. If there is further delay in reducing emissions, we will miss the opportunity to successfully manage the climate change transition in the land sector.”

Analysis and Comments

  • According to the report, agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net man-made GHG emissions during 2007-2016 (excluding pre- and post-production activity in the food system).
  • While the IPCC stops short from actually telling people to go meat-free, it does advocate the benefits of a more plant-based alternative diet, which may be seen as a positive for players in this space (although this is not exactly news).
  • The Guardian published a highly critical response to the IPCC’s land and climate report (saying that it “irresponsibly understates the true carbon cost of our meat and dairy habits”), which includes a number of very interesting figures – well worth a read!  

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