Can eating less meat help to reduce global warming?

Posted Nov 27, 2015 by Karen Graham
One of the world's most influential think-tanks has co-authored a report with the University of Glasgow that takes on livestock production and its impact on global warming, as well as our over-consumption of meat.
Published on November 24, the report makes a compelling argument for reducing our consumption of meat or it will be almost impossible to avoid passing the 2 degrees Celsius danger level.
Pointing out the main goal of the COP21 meeting to be held in Paris this weekend is the reduction of greenhouse gasses, authors Laura Wellesley, Catherine Happer and Antony Froggatt say that forcing the public to eat less meat will not only be healthier but will help to reduce greenhouse gasses. They say, “our appetite for meat is a major driver of climate change."
Of the 120 national plans already submitted to COP21, only 21 plans have a commitment to reduce livestock production. Reducing consumption of livestock appears in none of the plans, says the BBC. One reason for not having a plan to cut consumption of meat in the public's diet is the fear of many governments of a backlash from voters. But the study also found that most people want a government that will take the lead on serious issues.
One of the key findings in the report is the low level of public awareness over livestock production's role in elevated levels of greenhouse gasses. Livestock production accounts for 15 percent of global emissions, equivalent to all the exhaust emissions from all the vehicles in the world.
Meat consumption at the global level is on the rise, the study found, and there is a significant difference in consumption in industrialized countries and developing and third-world nations. The U.S. has the highest level of meat consumption, at 250gm. (0.9lbs.) per person each day. In India, the figures are much lower, at 10gm. (0.4oz.) per day per person.
Over-consumption of meat has already led to a rise in obesity, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, and it is predicted that by 2050, consumption of meat worldwide is expected to rise at least 75 percent unless something is done. Besides addressing global warming along with meat consumption, the study suggests that governments must take the lead in spearheading efforts to reduce the unsustainable consumption of meat.
How will that be done? This is a question that needs to be discussed at top government levels and with the public. The public has to be educated in the reasons behind a reduction in livestock production, along with the benefits of eating a healthier diet. Does this mean a tax on meat? Maybe. But through serious discussions, we should be able to find a better way to reduce our consumption of meat without hurting the pocketbook.
To read the full report, "Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption," go HERE.