According to a recent Swedish study, the entire world may need to cut back on meat and dairy consumption in order to keep climate change in check. Although significant reforms will also need to come from the energy industry, researchers point out that these changes will not be enough if people around the world continue to consume more and more animal products.
The United Nations has stressed the importance of preventing global temperatures from warming to more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial industries. While two degrees may not seem like much, it will take a sharp decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet this goal by the end of the century.
The agricultural industry is currently investigating more environmentally-friendly methods of crop production, “smarter” animal feeds and more conscientious methods of meat and dairy production, but scientists at the Chalmers University of Technology say that these changes will not be enough; “reduced ruminant meat and dairy consumption will be indispensable for reaching the 2 degrees Celsius target with a high probability, unless unprecedented advances in technology take place.”
In order to truly protect the world’s climate, the research team is urging the people of all countries and continents to carefully consider the impact their dietary choices have on the planet. According to Fredrik Hedenus, one of the study’s authors, “[w]e have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels. Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly.”
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