IPCC calls for reducing meat & increasing plant-based diets to save the environment
- Shifting towards plant-based diets and reducing meat consumption would significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change.
- IPCC regularly produces comprehensive reports and special reports on specific aspects of climate change.
- IPCC describes plant-based diets as the major opportunity for adapting to climate change.
- Scientists estimate that by 2050 dietary changes could free millions of square kilometers of land, and reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year.
The special report on climate and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes plant-based diets as the major opportunity for adapting to climate change. The report also includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption.
IPCC regularly produces comprehensive reports and special reports on specific aspects of climate change. The special report that was released last year concluded that the global greenhouse gas emissions must sharply decline in the near future to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.
IPCC’s report, compiled by more than 100 experts, informs about the upcoming climate negotiations amidst worsening global climate change. It would indeed be beneficial, for both climate and human health, if people in many rich countries consume less meat, and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect, says an ecologist who co-chairs the IPCC working group.
The report finds that if more of the world’s population shifts toward plant-based diets and reduces their meat consumption then it would significantly boost the planet’s ability to fight climate change. Meat such as beef and lamb is particularly inefficient to produce because livestock needs lots of space to graze. Lowering the intake of meat people eat would also decrease emissions from livestock and the amount of fertilizers raising them requires.
The report on climate change comes amid accelerating deforestation in the Amazon. The Amazon rainforests are a huge carbon sink that acts to cool global temperature but the rates of deforestation are rising in parts due to policies and actions of the government.
Some countries don’t seem to understand the dire need to stopping deforestation in the tropics. The unstopped deforestation could turn much of the remaining Amazon forests into a degraded type of desert, possibly releasing over 50 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere within 30 to 50 years.
The report further highlights the need to preserve and restore forests as these forests soak up carbon from the air, and peatlands that release carbon if dug up.
The report mentions that the balanced diets featuring plant-based, and sustainably- produced animal-sourced, food present major opportunities for adaptation and mitigation while generating co-benefits in terms of human health. Land degradation and expanding deserts threaten to affect food security, increase poverty and drive mitigation, the report added.
Scientists estimated that by 2050 dietary changes could free millions of square kilometers of land, and reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by up to eight billion tonnes per year.
Industrialized farming practices are responsible for much of the observed soil erosion and pollution, says another scientist. The biggest hurdle we face is to try and teach about half a billion farmers globally to re-work their agricultural model to be carbon sensitive, he added.
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