Eating Habits Must Change to Cut Emissions – WWF

eating habits contribute far more to global warmingBRITISH eating habits contribute far more to global warming than originally thought, a new study has warned.

A comprehensive investigation into UK food chain emissions, published by the WWF and Food Climate Research Network this week, found food consumption accounted for 20 per cent of total UK gas emissions.

But when land-use changes were taken into account, this figure rose to 30 per cent, it said.

The new report – How Low Can We Go – concluded that if the UK was to cut emissions by 70 per cent by 2050 the food chain would have to improve its productive efficiency and switch to non-carbon fuels. 
Controversially it also said Britons would have to substitute meat and dairy consumption with more cereals and vegetables.   

Mark Driscoll, head of WWF-UK’s One Planet Food programme said: “The full impact of our diets on climate change is astonishingly high – this report shows that.”

The report revealed a reduction in meat consumption would ease land pressures by substantially reducing the acreage needed to grow animal feed.

It also criticized livestock production abroad where an area of forest equivalent to half of England is cleared every year to make room for bigger ranches.

And in the UK it said livestock farming accounted for 57 per cent of agricultural emissions.

The report has heaped further pressure on Defra to back a reduction in livestock numbers after similar conclusions were reached in a Department of Health report last November.

The health report engendered wide-spread condemnation from farmers at the time and led to a fire-fighting exercise from Jim Fitzpatrick, Farm Minister, who backed British producers.

So far Defra has continued to back the industry. A spokesman for the Department agreed emissions associated with meat consumption should be reduced but said this could be done at a farmer level.

“We are working with farming organizations on a roadmap for reducing emissions from agriculture, which will be published this year.

“Many sectors, including the dairy, beef, lamb and pork sectors, are already working on plans to reduce their environmental impact,” said the spokesman, adding livestock played an important role in sustaining the British landscape.

Jim Begg, director general of Dairy UK, went one step further. He said the WWF was irresponsible to encourage livestock farmers to slash output when the world population was on the rise.

“Processors, retailers and dairy farmers are quietly making progress towards targets that will see a major reduction in emissions through more efficient handling of slurry, eliminating waste to landfill and using more recycled plastic in milk bottles.

“This is where the true greenhouse gas savings are being made,” he said.

Source : Farmers Guardian

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