Go vegetarian, reduce your carbon footprint1 comment
Climate change is often seen as an abstract and distant, global issue. However, there are many things that citizens can do in everyday life to mitigate its impact. One of them is to change our diet, activists say here on the sidelines of UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
By limiting our meat eating, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water consumption. This is the main goal of the Vegetarian Movement (Vegan), one of the thousands of non-governmental organizations attending the 17th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 17) , which is entering its second week.
COP 17 is taking place from 28th November to 9th December, bringing together delegates from 195 countries inside the International Conventions Center (ICC), as well as representatives of civil society movements that raise their voices in alternative forums outside the walls of the ICC.
Livestock generates 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than the world transportation sector- according to reports by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This multilateral organization was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to assess the science on climate change and its environmental and socio-economic impacts.
According to research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a meat diet requires 17 times as much land, 14 as much water and 10 times as much energy than a vegetarian one. “Replacing livestock products not only can achieve quick reductions in atmospheric GHGs, but can also reverse the ongoing world food and water scarcity,” says a report from the Worldwatch Institute.
By stopping (or reducing) meat production, we can preserve 70 per cent clean water, and save up to 70 per cent of the Amazon rainforest from clearance for animal grazing, according to the Center for the International Forests Research. Besides that, it could free up to 3.5 million hectares of land annually, and consume 2/3 less fossil fuel than those used for meat production, and reduce pollution from untreated animal waste.
Talking about climate finances — a major sticking point in the ongoing climate talks — scientists in the Netherlands found that of the estimated USD 40 trillion needed to stop global warming, almost 80% of this amount would be saved with a vegan diet. That’s a saving of USD 32 trillion for the simple step of turning away from the meat to a plant-based diet.
There is something we can do to mitigate climate change, and we can do it now, activists say.