World must eat less meat, UN climate change report states
April 6, 2022
ProVeg responds to latest IPCC report published earlier this week
The world’s top climate scientists issued their latest report earlier this week on mitigating climate change and have categorically stated that a reduction in meat consumption is a vital measure to tackle the climate crisis.
ProVeg wholeheartedly welcomes the report’s publication, issued by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which states that one of the biggest individual contributions to reducing emissions is to adopt a sustainable, healthy diet, which includes moderating meat and dairy intake through a plant-based diet.
ProVeg UK Director, Jimmy Pierson, commented: “We are pleased to see that the IPCC has acknowledged the importance of eating less meat and dairy. In the midst of a global climate crisis, it’s crucial that the links between diet and climate change are addressed, as animal agriculture accounts for one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Effective climate action calls for urgent dietary change, and we are encouraged to see that the global scientific community has recognised this.”
“Now it’s time for government policy to reflect the experts’ position; not just this IPCC report, but the National Food Strategy, which recommends a 30% reduction in national meat consumption and a 20% increase in fruit and vegetable intake.”
“We’re delighted to report that these changes are already being made in UK schools through our School Plates programme, which helps local authorities and caterers to create healthier and more sustainable school menus.”
ProVeg campaigns under the banner “Diet Change Not Climate Change” to highlight the environmental impact of animal agriculture on the environment and has onboarded a youth delegation this year. The NGO will be taking this message together with youth climate activists to the UN’s climate change conference, COP27, in Egypt, in November 2022 when global policymakers gather to agree next steps in tackling climate change.
The recommendation on meat reduction and a move towards a more plant-based diet is celebrated by NGOs and corporations alike. During COP26 the global methane pledge was heavily criticised after it did not specify which direct actions lead to a reduction in methane emissions. As a response, a big food industry player, Upfield, published their methane emissions, showcasing that a shift to a more plant-based diet can cut your food related emissions by 50%.
Commenting on the IPCC report, Sally Smith, Upfield’s Global Director Sustainability & ESG, said: “At COP26, important discussions began on how urgently we must address methane through fossil fuels as a contributor to the climate crisis, while methane in the food and agriculture sector was hardly mentioned. Just last week, Upfield disclosed its own methane footprint to set a precedent for methane transparency in the food sector. We are pleased to join an important wider conversation through showing methane footprint transparency, and we are hopeful this will inspire policymakers and the business community to do more – and quickly.”
The global food system is responsible for about one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Animal-based foods are responsible for the largest share. Research published in Nature Food journal for example finds that global gas emissions from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods, and are responsible for about 20% of global emissions.