Reducing global meat consumption will be critical to keeping global warming below the “danger level” of 2C, the main goal of the climate negotiations in Paris, according to a new report published by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, an independent policy institute based in London.
Among the key findings of the report – “Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption” – are that our appetite for meat is a major driver of climate change, and that therefore reducing global meat consumption will be critical to keeping global warming below the “danger level” of 2C.
Authors of the report, Laura Wellesley and Antony Froggatt of Chatham House and Catherine Happer of the University of Glasgow, contend there is little public awareness of the issue and that meat is not included on the policy agenda. Governments must lead in shifting attitudes and behavior, they add.
At the root of the problem, according to the authors, is that the livestock sector accounts for 15 percent of global emissions and that global meat consumption has already reached unhealthy levels, contributing to the rise of obesity and non-communicable diseases like cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Among the recommendations of the report are the need to build the case for government intervention and to initiate national debates about meat consumption, starting by increasing public awareness about the problems of overconsumption of animal products.
Commenting on the report, animal welfare campaigning organization, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) said in a statement that the report’s findings reflect its belief that consumers should eat less meat in order to tackle climate change.
“We want to see livestock production and overconsumption of meat and dairy foods on the agenda in Paris,” commented CIWF chief policy adviser, Peter Stevenson. “Research shows that we cannot avoid a dangerous rise in temperatures unless there is a substantial decrease in global meat and dairy consumption.”