US expert calls for 'meatless Mondays'
Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30
Global meat consumption will have to reduce and food waste eliminated if there is any chance of preventing dangerous climate change.
Reports from John Hopkins University in the US suggest that current consumption patterns are not sustainable in the long-term, and experts say that going meat-free once a week would help reduce global emissions.
One study, co-authored by Roni Neff from the John Hopkins Centre for a Liveable Future in Maryland notes there is a need for "immediate and substantial reductions" in food waste and meat and dairy intake, particularly beef and lamb.
It says these measures are "imperative to mitigating catastrophic climate change".
As much as 15pc of global greenhouse emissions arise from the agriculture sector, but almost 40pc of this total comes from enteric fermentation, where methane is released from the animals.
Reductions in consumption, such as giving up meat once a week, would help reduce emissions by the equivalent of taking more than 270 million cars off the road.
Roni Neff told the Farming Independent that there was an "incredible risk" of unmitigated climate change unless meat consumption was reduced.
"Meatless Monday is only the start of this process. There's no one-size-fits-all solution for agriculture, but there are many other areas farmers can move into, including producing different crops.
"When you think about the amount of animals we're producing right now, it's more than we need. Globally, we also waste around 30pc of our entire food supply. Emissions from food waste include all the resources that go into producing the food, but also the methane that is produced when the food is rotting.
"We have over 800 million people who are hungry, and we toss out food."
"I think when people hear the concept of meatless Monday, it resonates. For people who haven't started reducing consumption, this is a way to begin the process.
"On the national pledges which countries have submitted, there's some talk about agriculture but there's nobody talking about meat."
In high-income nations, food waste tends to arise due to over-purchasing. In lower and middle-income countries, it is due to losses in food production, processing and a lack of suitable storage facilities.
The report says that policy incentives to reduce consumption, such as removing subsidies for meat production, should be considered.