UN scientist: Eat less meat to tackle climate change

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rajendra Pachauri: "Give up meat for one day initially, and decrease it from there"
Image: Remy Steinegger.

Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the UN-run Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that eating less meat is a good way to reduce damage to the climate.

Pachuari said that "the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions," when explaining the reasons behind his comment. "So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider."

"In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it [giving up meat] clearly is the most attractive opportunity," continued the climate scientist. "Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there."

Joyce D'Silva, a spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming agreed with Pachuari. "Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realize that changing what's on their plate could have an even bigger effect," she said in response to the comments made by the UN climate scientist.

The National Farmers Union said that people should find ways of environmental farming instead of giving up meat. "The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem," said a spokesperson for the organization. "We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion."