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2-min read

Humans Must Adopt Vegetarian and Vegan Diets to Curb Climate Change, Says UN Report

To have at least a fifty per cent chance of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees centigrade, society must be 'carbon neutral' within the next 30 years.

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Updated:August 6, 2019, 4:26 PM IST
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Humans Must Adopt Vegetarian and Vegan Diets to Curb Climate Change, Says UN Report
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A UN report has now warned that the world must turn towards healthy plant based diets to stop climate change. According to the report, human food system, that accounts for around 25 to 30 per cent of greenhouse gases, and is choking life from fresh and coastal waterways with excess nitrogen.

According to a news published in Daily Mail, the report further states that in order to feed the predicted 9.8 billion people on Earth in 2050, the world will need to produce 56 per cent more food compared to 2010.

However, if the level of meat and dairy consumption rises in line with current food habits, six million square kilometres of forests would need to be converted to agriculture, of which two-thirds would be changed to pasture land, with the final third being used for crops, according to the Creating a Sustainable Food Future report.

According to Johan Rockstrom, former director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Change Impact Research, to have any chance of feeding ten billion people in 2050 within planetary boundaries, one must adopt a healthy, plant-based diet and cut food waste. He further champions investment in technologies that reduce environmental impacts.

However, the 'great food transformation' proposed in the report is at odds with other schemes that aim to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

One report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) proposes to convert areas the size of India to biofuel crops or CO2-absorbing trees.

This is in accordance to the Paris-compatible climate models that slot in a major role for a two-step process that draws down carbon by growing biofuels, and then captures the carbon dioxide released by them, when the plants are burned to generate energy.

Capping global warming at 1.5 degree centigrade would require converting some 7.6 million square kilometres (2.9 million square miles) to Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). However, even if temperatures were allowed to climb twice as high, the report concluded, biofuels would still need to cover some 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles).

A draft summary of the 1,000-page IPCC report however, warns that the proposal could “compromise sustainable development with increased risks - and potentially irreversible consequences - for food security, desertification and land degradation.”

On the other hand, CO2 and methane emissions, nitrogen and plastics pollution, human population - continue to expand at record rates.

To have at least a fifty per cent chance of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees centigrade, society must be 'carbon neutral' within the next 30 years.

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