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Livestock- Climate Change's forgotten sector

The information below based on the news from the Chatham House which I came across today (Left Unchecked, Western Diets Could Derail Climate Action) made me compile the information which I thought would be useful for you. Using also the Global Calculator you can see the results projected for the land use in (M ha) in the next 50 years depending on low or high meat consumption as well... A growing body of evidence shows the impact that unsustainable levels of meat consumption – particularly of meats like beef and lamb – have on the planet.

As shown in a recent Chatham House report, the livestock sector contributes nearly 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, roughly equivalent to those from transport. Yet minimal attention has been paid to the unsustainable manner in which we produce and consume meat, and public awareness of the impact of dietary choices on our environment is low.

The UK Department for Energy and Climate Change recently launched an interactive web tool (http://www.globalcalculator.org/)that allows users to explore various lifestyle choices and energy uses, and their effect on global greenhouse gas emissions and subsequent temperature rise by the end of the century. The ‘Global Calculator’ provides a striking visualization of what experts already know: if adopted globally, the Western diet is incompatible with staying below the limit of two degrees above pre-industrial levels, deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

  • The results are compelling. If the energy sector is successfully decarbonized by 2050, our diets can make the difference between the two-degree scenario in which dangerous climate change is averted and the four-degree scenario described by the World Bank(Turn down the heat- http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2012/11/18/new-report-ex…) as one of ‘cataclysmic’ climate change.
  • If current consumption trends continue, with meat consumption in emerging and developing countries increasing but remaining considerably below Western levels, we will stay on track for a global temperature rise of two degrees.
  • But if the Western diet becomes the norm by 2050, even with cleaner energy and ambitious action in other areas of our lifestyles, we are headed for a global temperature rise of four degrees. Such a scenario implies a considerable escalation compared with current trends but is not inconceivable: consumption in emerging and developing economies is rising rapidly

As the ‘Global Calculator’ demonstrates, if decarbonization is accompanied by a push to curb unsustainable levels of emissions-intensive meat consumption, a 1.5 degree world – which offers the best chance of avoiding drastic climate impacts and ensuring the survival of low-lying island states − begins to look like a very real possibility.

As consumers around the world look to experts and environmental groups to inform them about climate change and its causes, communication tools like the Global Calculator could be an invaluable means of broadcasting a message that has gone largely unheard. And with such powerful evidence, the need for urgent action on diets will be difficult to ignore.