14th February, 2010 - Posted by admin - 1 Comment
NoBeef has received this from Dr Donal Murphy-Bokern one of the authors of How Low Can We Go
Dedicated meat-eaters who might have got the impression from The Times on 12 February that recent research is an environmental green light for meat eating will be disappointed. Anyone who studies the research report will see that the Times article was cleverly written but very misleading.
The research showed that the carbon footprint of UK food accounts directly for one fifth of the total footprint. This rises to nearly a third if account is taken of indirect connections to deforestation. It is dominated by emissions from the livestock sector. Livestock products directly account for nearly two-thirds of food greenhouse gas emissions while providing less than a third of food energy. Contrary to the impression in The Times, the research results and the authors’ conclusions clearly show that reducing livestock consumption offers the single most effective way of reducing the carbon footprint of our food consumption. Removing meat from the diet and replacing it with plant foods with similar protein contents reduces the carbon footprint of diet by one fifth. Removing all animal products remove nearly a third. For consumers, the desired direction of travel for helping the environment is clear – eat less meat and dairy products. Combining this with other measures, including using science and technology to improve farming, adds to the benefits.
The Times article ignored the report’s main results and conclusions and focused on a minor part of the study that looked at some potential but unlikely consequences of reducing meat consumption for land use. A low impact diet is a balanced diet – lower in livestock products than the average UK diet today, with more of a wide range of plant based foods – cereals, fruit and vegetables.
Dr Murphy-Bokern has also told NoBeef that the Global Warming Potential used for How Low Can We Go was the GWP100 value, i.e. 25. Some argue that a much higher figure should be used for the GWP of methane, even as high as 105 – see Soot makes methane even worse. This would make the impact of livestock on climate significantly larger.