The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a vegetarian or vegan diet for all is an absolute must to avoid our planet being damaged beyond repair. Pastures must also be converted into woodland, the IPCC says.
Different land use, different food consumption
If we want to combat climate change, we will also have to work on a different way of using the land and consuming our food. That is the core message of a new UN report, covering topics such as desertification, erosion, sustainable land use and food safety. Delegates from the 195 member countries of the IPCC had reached an agreement on the text in Geneva on Wednesday, one day later than planned.
The experts' data shows that the air temperature above land has already risen by 1.5 °C compared to the pre-industrial level, meaning the temperature above land rises twice as fast as the global average (which also includes the seas and oceans). The scientists warn that this clearly increases the risk of more droughts, forest fires, thawing permafrost and food insecurity.
The climate panel also states that the necessary reduction in greenhouse gases cannot be achieved by looking only at cars, companies and power plants: the solution will have to come mainly from a global adjustment in diets, which has people eat less meat and more plant-based foods.
A reduced meat production is needed to lower emissions from livestock: currently, half of the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane come from livestock - and rice fields. Moreover, by making less land available for meat production, more land can be used sustainably, the report says. Agriculture, deforestation and other forms of land use represent 23 % of human greenhouse gas emissions. And, as a nice collateral bonus, that would at the same time also "improve public health", the panel says.