Sad news meat lovers – going green might just also affect a change in your diet. It turns out that vegetarians got it right as growing food for the world’s burgeoning population is likely to send greenhouse gas emissions over the threshold of safety, unless more is done to cut meat consumption, a new report has found.
According to the report, a widespread switch to vegetarianism would cut emissions by nearly two-thirds.
In three decades, emissions related to agriculture and food production are likely to account for about half of the world’s available “carbon budget” – the limited amount of carbon dioxide and its equivalents that can be poured into the atmosphere if we are to hold global warming to no more than 2C.
While energy generation, transport and buildings have long been a target for governments, businesses and campaigners looking to reduce emissions, the impact from food production has often been left out. But on current trends, with intensive agriculture increasingly geared towards livestock rearing, food production will be a major concern.
The research, led by scientists at the Oxford Martin School, found that shifting to a mostly vegetarian diet, or even simply cutting down meat consumption to within accepted health guidelines, would make a large dent in greenhouse gases.
Adhering to health guidelines on meat consumption could cut global food-related emissions by nearly a third by 2050, the study found, while widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet would bring down emissions by 63%.
More than 5m premature deaths could be avoided globally by 2050 if health guidelines on meat consumption were followed, rising to more than 7m with a vegetarian diet and 8m on veganism. These steps, if widely followed, could also reduce global healthcare costs by $1bn a year by mid-century.
Source: The Guardian UK