As something of a burger connoisseur...this news hits me hard. No more beef burgers? Too much of a good thing never works out well, and the entire world has been eating too much red meat for too long!
Everything in moderation right? Well, moderating meat consumption is essential to cut CO2 emissions!
A report conducted by the Chatham House, titled
Livestock – Climate Change’s Forgotten Sector Global Public Opinion on Meat and Dairy Consumption
, explains that the consumption of meat and dairy is a major driver of climate change.
Without a shift in global meat and dairy consumption, it will be impossible to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees celsius. A number of factors, such as fear of backlash, "have made governments and environmental groups reluctant to pursue policies or campaigns to shift consumer behaviour."
Livestock production is the largest global source of methane and nitrous oxide, more than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined.
explains livestock production is also an major cause of deforestation, with forests cut down to provide pasture or are degraded through animal grazing, and indirectly, as demand for animal feed drives the expansion of cropland into forests.
One of the major issues is the prevalence of an awareness gap. The report states, "consumers with a higher level of awareness were more likely to indicate willingness to reduce their meat and dairy consumption for climate objectives. Closing the awareness gap is therefore likely to be an important precondition for behaviour change."
Meat consumption is on track to rise 75% by 2050, and dairy 65%, compared with 40% for cereals. However, the good news is that "the majority of future demand appears to be in the countries that are the most receptive to change”.
These facts are not a call for radical vegetarian debate, but rather about a sensible balance. You can still eat meat, but extreme worldwide reductions need to be made. We cannot keep consuming meat at the rate we are now, nor let it rise as predicted, if we want to keep temperature rising below 2 degrees celsius and save the planet from anthropogenic climate change. The meat and dairy production industry needs to minimise dramatically.
However, it is not just up to the industry and governments, the fight starts on your plate. As individuals, we can opt to cut our meat and dairy intake on a personal level.
For regular meat eaters try cutting out 1 red meat meal each week
Estimated CO2 Saving: 16kg per month (195kg per year)
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in taking practical action on dangerous climate change through the way that we live, the choices we make and the way we spend our money.