Less meat = less heat, 'Meatless Monday' advocates say

Thursday, 10 December, 2015

While the focus of the COP21 in Paris has been on the goal to limit global warming to 2°C, scientists have urged world leaders not to overlook the climatic implications of burgeoning global rates of meat consumption.

The ‘Meatless Monday’ movement has grown from a campaign in 2003 by former ad exec Sid Lerner to promote the health and environmental benefits of cutting out meat one day a week to now include other global benefits like reducing climate change.

“Unfortunately, the connection of meat consumption to climate change is not garnering the serious attention it deserves,” said Roni Neff, PhD, attending director of the Food System Sustainability Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

At COP21, representatives from 15 countries including the US, Israel, Korea, Denmark, Nigeria and Kuwait have joined leading scientists, politicians and chefs at a Meatless Monday session to underline the link between meat and climate change and the impact that simple dietary changes, like going meatless one day a week, can make in slowing global warming. CLF researchers presented a review of peer-reviewed research that suggests GHG emissions in 2050 from agriculture alone will total over 20 gigatons (Gt) if current meat consumption grows with GDP as the FAO predicts. This accounts for almost the entire emissions budget of 21 Gt, leaving little room for emissions from other sectors.

Meatless Monday advocates say that studies suggest that the annual savings in GHG emissions in 2050 if everyone went meatless one day a week could be 1.3 Gt, the equivalent of taking over 273 million passenger vehicles off the road or closing 341 coal-fired power plants.

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