This is a guest post by Meg Hamill who works at LandPaths, in Partnership with The Open Space District of Sonoma County, California
Monday evening, the UN’s top Climate Scientist, Rajendra Pachuari, will speak in London at a meeting organized by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), urging people to fight global warming by taking meat off their menu.
Dr. Pachuari has recently been re-appointed to his second, six-year term as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC collects and evaluates climate data for governments around the world, and was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore. Dr. Pachuari told the BBC: “I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”
UN data says that meat production accounts for about 18% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, topping even transportation, which accounts for 13% of worldwide emissions. The UN included all aspects of meat production, when arriving at the 18% figure: clearing land, creation and transportation of fertilizers, burning fuels in farm vehicles, and the emissions coming directly from cows and sheep.
There are three main greenhouse gases involved in meat production: methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. People have begun to think about ways of farming meat that produce less emissions. One possibility to is genetically engineer cattle that produce less methane. The biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions from meat production, however, is land clearance, which will likely continue as long as the demand for meat continues to rise.
CIWF’s ambassador Joyce D’Silva told the BBC: “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.”