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Eating less meat can help fight climate change, UN report says


Special Report on Climate Change. Photo: TWITTER/ MARKHOWDEN

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has advised that eating less meat and more plant diet will help the world in fighting climate change.

The report added that the way the world manages land produces and eats food has to change to curb global warming and maintain food security. Otherwise, health and biodiversity will be at risk, the UN report said yesterday.

The report noted that global population growth and changes in consumption patterns have caused unprecedented rates of land and water use. It called for big changes to farming and eating habits but stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat-free.


Dietary changes, featuring plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food, could free up several million square kilometres of land by 2050 and potentially cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in the report.

“Delaying action could result in some irreversible impacts on some ecosystems, which in the longer term has the potential to lead to substantial additional emissions from ecosystems that would accelerate global warming,” it said.

The IPCC met to finalise the report this week in Geneva, Switzerland, which should help to guide governments’ meeting later this year on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement and avoid runaway climate change.

In a nearly 60-page summary for policymakers, the IPCC said that since the pre-industrial period, the land surface air temperature has already risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius – twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87 C). Such warming has caused more heatwaves, droughts and heavy precipitation, as well as land degradation and desertification.

Human use directly affects more than 70 percent of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70 percent of freshwater use.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23 percent of total net man-made greenhouse gas emissions during 2007-2016. When pre- and post-production activities in the food system are included, that rises to up to 37 percent.

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