Eat less meat to fight climate change

London: People should cut their consumption of meat to help combat climate change, a top UN expert said.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told the Observer that people should start by having one meat-free day per week then cut back further.
The 68-year-old Indian economist, who is a vegetarian, said diet change was important in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental problems associated with rearing cattle. “Give up meat for one day (per week) initially, and decrease it from there,” he said. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.”
Other small-scale lifestyle changes would also help to combat climate change, he said. “That’s what I want to emphasise: we really have to bring about reductions in every sector of the economy.”
Pachauri is due to give a speech in London on Monday under the title: “Global Warning: the impact of meat production and consumption on climate change”.
Pachauri, who was re-elected for a second six-year term as IPCC chairman last week, has headed the organisation since 2002 and oversaw its seminal assessment report in 2007 which gave graphic forecasts of the risks posed by global warming.
The IPCC warned then that without action the planet’s rising temperatures could unleash catastrophic change to earth’s climate system, leading to massive species loss. AFP

Almost one fifth of all global greenhouse emissions are accounted for by meat production, according to estimates of the Food and Agriculture Organisation. Some are generated during the production of animal feeds. Cattle emit methane, a gas 23 times more potent as a global warming agent than even carbon dioxide. Seen in this light, a suggestion made by Rajendra K Pachauri that people should avoid eating meat at least once a week and scale down meat consumption makes sense. As head of the IPCC since 2002 — he has been re-elected for a second term recently — Pachauri has presided over and directed research into various aspects of climate change
One of the findings of the Nobel Peace prize winning IPCC was that meat consumption would begin to double by 2050, implying that the volume of methane emitted by cattle and sheep would double, too, further aggravating the global warming problem. He pointed out that cattle rearing also contributed to climate change through habitat loss. Though critics disagree, individual action could play significant role in meeting the climate change challenge. One such individual action — besides energy conservation and minimising use of private transport — is to avoid eating meat as far as possible.
Every year, November 25 is observed as International Meatless Day to draw attention to animal rights. Combined with the environmental reason, such an observance could go a long way in bringing about a degree of moderation in eating habits so that there is a good balance. Some states — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh — close down slaughterhouses and meat shops on this day.
Doubtless, campaigns by animal rights activists and religious groups have unwittingly made vegetarianism some kind of a moral issue. However, all that Pachauri suggests is that by reducing the intake of meat — largely from methane-producing cattle — we could contribute towards reducing the pace of global warming. And if cutting down on meat also promotes health, why not take up his suggestion?

World feels the heat from meat
New Delhi: R K Pachauri, chief of the Nobel prize winning UN climate change panel, has spiced up the debate on kebabs and steaks by suggesting that the best and easiest way of stemming climate change is to not eat meat at least one day each week. What has eating meat got to do with climate change, you may ask. A lot, actually. The FAO calculates that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. The emissions arise not because you eat and belch or fart but in the way land is cleared, and feed for animals is grown. And also how the livestock emit methane, when it belches or farts, which is 23 times stronger as a climatechanging agent than carbon dioxide. So, Pachauri’s suggestion that the world should be biting into meat a little less seems a good idea. But the world is not a monolith. As in emissions, for which the rich countries are much more responsible than the poor ones, so with meat. Some eat it; others gobble it. A citizen of UAE eats nearly 100 kg of poultry products per person annually. India might be famous for its tandoori chicken, but an average Indian eats just 2.1 kg of poultry products per person per year according to the US Department of Agriculture. An average American chews upon 46 kg of chicken in a year, a Chinese 8.7 kg. The story is the same for beef. An average Indian consumes 1.6 kg of beef and buffalo products while an average American eats 41.7 kg every year and a Brazilian 37.6 kg. Will going vegetarian help save the world? New Delhi: The high consumption of meat in the western world is driven by an intensive industry that ensures the meat is on the table of the rich, sometimes moving it across continents to suit changing tastes, preferences and fashion. Lands that used to grow other staple foods have been diverted to grow the stock that helps feed a population thirsting for meat. In developing countries like India, the story is a bit different. The poultry trade is organized but still run primarily as a cooperative system for small farmers. Livestock feeds on agricultural residue more than special feed. The energy intensity of the tandoori chicken, so to say, is much less, though the spices in the dish may be too much for a European palate. So, when Pachauri says chew a bit less on that bone, he is talking largely to a Western audience. But he is also holding out a warning for India— we can’t afford to go the western way and like many Indians who go vegeterian every Tuesday, it would be good if all Indian did once a week. As head of the inter-governmental panel on climate change Pachauri has recommended that the world needs to take drastic action so that global average temperatures are to be maintained at just 2 degrees over the current. That demands a huge cut of emissions from the rich countries that have caused more than 70% of the GHG gas emissions.

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