In the week before governments assemble in Paris to agree a global climate deal, a new report from Chatham House shows that a worldwide shift to healthier diets could help close the gap between current emissions reduction plans and what is needed to prevent dangerous climate change.
Pledges from countries attending the 21st UNFCCC Conference of the Parties put the world on track for around 3 degrees of warming by 2100, leaving governments with much more still to do. Changing diets to healthy levels of meat consumption could generate a quarter of the remaining emission reductions needed to keep warming below the ‘danger level’ of 2 degrees Celsius – the main goal of the climate negotiations.
Changing Climate, Changing Diets: Pathways to Lower Meat Consumption by Laura Wellesley, Catherine Happer and Antony Froggatt argues that, ultimately, dietary change is fundamental to achieving the 2 degrees goal. The livestock sector is already responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Unless strong demand growth for meat is curtailed, livestock sector emissions will increase to the point where dangerous climate change is unavoidable.
Dietary change would also have major health benefits. Global per capita meat consumption is already above healthy levels, and double the recommended amount in industrialized countries. Too much red and processed meat is associated with an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, in particular cancer, as found most recently by the World Health Organization.
“Reducing meat consumption is a real win-win for health and for the climate,” says report author Laura Wellesley. “As governments look for strategies to close the Paris emissions gap quickly and cheaply, dietary change should be high on the list.”
However, the report finds that governments are ignoring the opportunity. Reducing meat consumption does not feature in a single national emissions reduction plan submitted in advance of the Paris meeting. Governments are afraid to interfere in lifestyle choices for fear of public backlash.
But new research undertaken for the report, including an innovative public survey in 12 countries and focus groups in Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States shows that government fears are exaggerated. Once aware of the link between meat and climate change, consumers accept the need for government action. Even unpopular interventions to make meat more expensive, for example through a carbon tax, would face diminishing resistance as publics come to understand the rationale behind intervention.
To build support for government action, the report recommends initiatives to raise public awareness of the climate and health impacts of excessive meat consumption. Governments should pursue comprehensive strategies to shift diets, including policies on labelling, public procurement, regulation and pricing.
“Raising awareness about the health and environmental impacts of meat is an important first step, but on its own it will not lead to significant behaviour change. Governments must do more to influence diets,” added Wellesley.
Commenting on the report, Friends of the Earth’s senior food campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: “Meat consumption can no longer be ignored in the climate debate – shifting diets to less meat and more plant proteins will be crucial if we are to avoid the dangerous effects of global warming.
“The government must stop using consumer backlash as an excuse for inaction. In fact, the public is way ahead of politicians on wanting action on the climate – when the risks of not reducing meat consumption are highlighted, the public gets the need for change.
“We need brave and bold action by governments and the food industry to pave the way for people to change their diets, which would have huge health benefits too.”
Friends of the Earth is calling for the UK government to put the guidelines on healthy and sustainable diets from its ‘Green Food Project’ into policy.
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”