New report urges cuts in meat consumption

Environmentalists will once again call for a reduction in meat consumption, with the publication of a new report next week.

The report, commissioned by WWF-UK and the Food Climate Research Network, is entitled How Low Can We Go: an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions from the UK food system and scope for reduction by 2050.

Both organisations are hoping the document will stimulate debate about the impact from emissions from the food chain and whether consumption habits should change.
Mark Driscoll, from WWF-UK, said some of the issues in the report, particularly the need for changes in food consumption, were likely to prove controversial. “This report looks at the whole food chain – everyone from producers to consumers. It provides an indication of the emissions from UK food consumption, including those attributed to land-use change in other parts of the world. The results are striking and, as such, increase the pressure on some of the big issues being discussed.
"The evidence is building that we will not deliver a secure and sustainable food system if we rely on improved production methods alone. There is ample evidence out there that shows that, in order to feed a growing global population, the Western diet will have to reduce meat and dairy consumption. Our report, out on Monday, will provide further proof of this."

The study looked at a range of scenarios to reduce emissions by 70%, focusing on areas such as decarbonisation of the energy used in transport, reductions in emissions from livestock and fertilisers through improved genetics and technological advancements and changes in consumption.

Driscoll said the results should provide a stimulus for debate – and urged the government to stop side-stepping some of the issues, as had been the case in the Defra Food 2030 vision paper.

“It’s refreshing to see the role of sustainable diets discussed and a commitment to defining them within Food 2030. However, in terms of cutting emissions, the government has, once again, focused much of its efforts on production systems and resource efficiency with little recognition of the need to address consumption – the issue of livestock consumption is mentioned but neatly side-stepped under the guise of ‘lack of information’.

“The efforts of producers to cut emissions thus far is welcome, and the new Roadmap produced by Eblex is another step in the right direction. However, long-term, the consumption issue will have to be tackled; consumption changes take many years, which is why we need to be addressing the issue now."

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