September 19, 2019

Eating Less Meat Can Fight Climate Change According to UN Report

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first_img A major UN report on land use and climate change says switching to a plant-based diet can help fight climate change.The report, prepared by 107 scientists for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and released Thursday, warns that efforts to curb greenhouse gas-emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture — and human diets. IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land:Land is under growing human pressure.Land is a part of the solution.But land can’t do it all. #SRCCL #ClimateChange #GlobalGoalsRead more— IPCC (@IPCC_CH) August 8, 2019The researchers, however, are not calling for everyone to become vegan or vegetarian, BBC News reported. But they say more people could be fed using less land if individuals eat less meat.“Some dietary choices require more land and water, and cause more emissions of heat-trapping gases than others,” Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, said in a press release. “Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change.”Dietary changes, featuring plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food, could free up several million square kilometers of land by 2050 and potentially cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the report says.IPCC does not recommend people’s diets. What we’ve pointed out on the basis of the scientific evidence is that there are certain diets that have a lower carbon footprint — Jim Skea, Co-chair of #IPCC WGIII #SRCCLFollow live the press conference— IPCC (@IPCC_CH) August 8, 2019While the report shows that better land management can contribute to tackling climate change, it is not the only solution. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors is essential if global warming is to be kept to well below 2 degrees C, if not 1.5 degrees C.In 2015, governments backed the Paris Agreement goal of strengthening the global response to climate change by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C.Land must remain productive to maintain food security as the population increases and the negative impacts of climate change on vegetation increase. “This means there are limits to the contribution of land to addressing climate change, for instance through the cultivation of energy crops and afforestation,” the researchers said. “It also takes time for trees and soils to store carbon effectively. Bioenergy needs to be carefully managed to avoid risks to food security, biodiversity and land degradation. Desirable outcomes will depend on locally appropriate policies and governance systems.”Food SecurityA man navigates his cart loaded with bananas through flood waters during heavy monsoon rains in Lahore, Pakistan on August 1, 2019. (Photo Credit: Arif Ali / AFP /Getty Images)The scientists also warned of more disruption to global food chains as extreme weather events become even more frequent due to climate change.“Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines – especially in the tropics – increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,” said Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.According to Shukla, while we will see different effects in different countries, there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.The report finds that there are ways to manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities in land and the food system.Risk management can enhance communities’ resilience to extreme events, which has an impact on food systems. This can be the result of dietary changes or ensuring a variety of crops to prevent further land degradation and increase resilience to extreme or varying weather.ForestsDeforestation in the Amazon, Brazil. (Photo Credit: LeoFFreitas / Getty Images)As per Nature, the latest report also notes the importance of tropical rainforests, where concerns are mounting about accelerating rates of deforestation.The Amazon rainforests is a huge carbon sink that acts to cool global temperature — it is sometimes called the “lungs of the world” because of the vast amounts of carbon dioxide its trees absorb — but rates of deforestation are rising, in part due to the policies and actions of the government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.Reducing deforestation and forest degradation could result in a reduction of 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the report said.Land and Climate Change ResponsesChildren at a climate action demonstration in London, England. (Photo Credit: Jenny Matthews / In Pictures via Getty Images Images)Policies that are outside the land and energy domains, such as on transport and environment, can also make a critical difference to tackling climate change, according to the report. But people need to act early.“There are things we are already doing. We are using technologies and good practices, but they do need to be scaled up and used in other suitable places that they are not being used in now,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.“There is real potential here through more sustainable land use, reducing over-consumption and waste of food, eliminating the clearing and burning of forests, preventing over-harvesting of fuelwood, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thus helping to address land related climate change issues.”Read the full report here.More on Planting More Trees Key to Combating Climate ChangeUN Report: 1 Million Species Face Extinction Due to HumansStudy: Climate Change Affects Global Economic Inequality, Too Amazon Employees Join Sept. 20 Global Climate WalkoutResearchers Transform CO2 Into Liquid Fuel Stay on targetlast_img