The UK government recently announced plans to slash its emissions by more than two-thirds to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
But, to do so, consumers must reduce their meat and dairy intake by 20 percent, according to a new report by The Climate Change Committee.
The Sixth Carbon Budget report, which was published today, describes ruminant meat as the most ‘GHG-intensive source of protein’ and argued that although pigs and poultry produce fewer emissions in comparison – ‘there are concerns that imported animal feed may have high embedded emissions’.
It also praised plant-based protein sources for having ‘significantly fewer GHG emissions than animal-sourced proteins when compared on a like-for-like basis’.
Although a reduction of 20 percent falls below Oxford University’s Eatwell Guide, the Climate Change Committee says further reductions post-2030 will be necessary ‘in some scenarios’ and considers how cultured meat may become part of consumers’ diets.
Other policies in the report include banning the sale of gas boilers beyond 2033, increase woodland cover from 13 to 15 percent by 2035, and to cut back on travel.
‘Consumption of dairy has fallen in the UK’
“Consuming more of a plant-based diet can reduce non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and a range of dietary-related cancers, which in turn can lower the risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19,” the report states.
“People with Type 2 diabetes (both controlled and uncontrolled) are 81 percent more likely to die from the virus. NHS England estimates more than 100,000 lives could be saved each year from healthier diets.
“Official data indicate that consumption of some meat and dairy products has fallen in the UK. Recent survey data suggests an increased willingness to adopt more of a plant-based diet, while the increased focus on healthier diets due to the impact of COVID-19 may be leading an acceleration in this trend amongst certain groups.”
‘Predominantly plant-based diets’
Earlier this year, research from an international team led by the University of Oxford found slashing our use of fossil fuel use is essential to meet global climate targets. But is not enough unless we also transform the global food system.
In fact, scientists say, even if fossil fuel emissions stop immediately, emissions from the global food system alone could increase global temperatures by more than 1.5°C.
Dr. Michael Clark is from The Oxford Martin School and Nuffield Department of Population Health. In a statement sent to Plant Based News, he said: “Discussions on mitigating climate change typically focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels, for instance, from transportation or energy production.
“However, our research emphasizes the importance of reducing emissions from the global food system… The most important is for individuals to shift towards predominantly plant-based diets.”