Eat Less Meat to Combat Global Emissions, Says UN

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization is planning to release an essential global food systems road map during the COP28 climate summit, calling on the West to reduce its meat consumption. Here’s the full story.

Call to Reduce Meat Consumption

At the heart of the roadmap is a call for Western nations, including the United States, to make substantial reductions in their meat consumption. The goal is to combat greenhouse gas emissions, given the significant environmental impact of meat production.

Jeremy Coller, chair and founder of the FAIRR Initiative, emphasizes the urgency of tackling emissions within the food and agriculture sector. This sector contributes a substantial 40% of methane emissions and about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions globally, underscoring the critical need for policy intervention.

Comprehensive Solutions for Climate Change

The FAO’s roadmap doesn’t stop at reducing meat consumption. It also provides guidelines for farmers to adapt to unpredictable weather patterns, addresses emissions, and aims to curb food waste and fertilizer use. These recommendations, although non-binding, set the stage for potential policy shifts and signify a departure from previous UN climate conferences that primarily focused on emissions from other sectors.

“We already have solutions to tackle climate change, and many of these solutions, whether it is agroforestry, restoration of soils, sustainable livestock, or fisheries management, have multiple benefits as they can also support the sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as help with food security — multiple benefits from the same solutions that only agriculture and food systems offer,” Kaveh Zahedi, the director of the FAO Office of Climate Change, said.

Despite these recommendations being non-binding, they set the stage for potential policy shifts and signify an important withdrawal from previous UN climate conferences, which mainly centered on emissions from power, transportation, and manufacturing sectors. 

Agriculture’s Carbon Footprint and Controversies

The global food system carries a substantial carbon footprint, generating an estimated 18 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually. Livestock, in particular, contributes around 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. While the UN advocates for a shift from animal-based to plant-based diets due to their lower environmental impact, there are concerns about regulating agricultural practices and the potential impact on both climate change and food security. The UN has consistently supported the shift from animal-based diets to plant-based alternatives, sharing their significantly lower impact on the environment. 

The American Situation

In the United States, agriculture accounts for approximately 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions but only 1.4% globally. There are concerns about regulating agricultural practices and the potential impact on both climate change and food security. “America’s farmers and ranchers are climate heroes, reducing emissions while providing abundant and affordable food, fiber, and fuel,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson, told Fox News Digital.

“Regulating producers out of business in the U.S. will not effectively address global climate change, but export production to foreign countries with hostile regimes and worse emissions profiles while harming food security and affordability. Simply put, the world needs American farmers and ranchers more than the UN,” he continued.

However, there are concerns about regulating agricultural practices and the potential impact on both climate change and food security. Lawmakers stress the essential role of American farmers and ranchers in global food supply chains and in reducing emissions. Recent discussions about agriculture’s contribution to emissions have generated controversy, especially regarding comments made by public figures such as President Biden’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, who highlighted the significant emissions generated by food systems.

Kerry said, “A lot of people have no clue that agriculture contributes about 33% of all the emissions of the world. We can’t get to net zero, we won’t get this job done unless agriculture is front and center as part of the solution. So all of us here understand the depths of this mission.”

“Food systems themselves contribute a significant amount of emissions just in the way in which we do the things we’ve been doing,” he added.

“With a growing population on the planet – we just crossed the threshold of 8 billion fellow citizens around the world – emissions from the food system alone are projected to cause another half a degree of warming by mid-century,” he concluded.

As the global conversation intensifies regarding the United Nations’ food systems roadmap and its call to reduce meat consumption, it underscores the complexities of addressing climate change, agriculture, and food security on a worldwide scale. These recommendations, while potentially influencing policy changes, also raise important concerns about the role of agriculture in greenhouse gas emissions and its impact on global food supplies.

The post Eat Less Meat to Combat Global Emissions, Says UN first appeared on Edge Media.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / siamionau pavel. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

Sasha Salmaan is a highly regarded writer and political commentator, specializing in UK politics, international relations, and issues of freedom and liberty. With a keen analytical mind, Salimaan offers in-depth coverage and critical insights into the British and global political landscape.

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