Changing diets could halve greenhouse gas emissions

If the UK switched to a diet lower in animal products it could reduce the nations food-related greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 55%, according to new research published by conservation charity WWF. 

In WWF’s recent Living Planet Report, the charity revealed that nature is in steep decline, with average global wildlife populations declining by 68% in less than 50 years.

According to the report, our global food systems are largely responsible, accounting for 70% of biodiversity loss on land and more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

In a bid to change the way our food systems work, the charity has launched the Planet-Based Diets Impact & Action Calculator to allow individuals and governments to assess the individual and national impacts of their diets on eight human environmental factors – such as biodiversity loss, water use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The calculator is customised across 13 food groups, from grains, dairy, sugar and red meat and is built on a bespoke dataset and analysis specific to each of the 147 countries included.

For example, the tool calculates that a diet rich in meat and dairy in the UK would use far more grazing land and produce far more emissions than a vegan diet.

Sarah Halevy, food systems sustainability manager, at WWF said: ‘We are facing a climate and wildlife crisis – nature is in freefall and the things we eat and the way we farm is driving that. It is crucial to understand where food consumed in the UK is produced, and how that affects carbon levels and biodiversity loss.

‘Changing our diets is a powerful way of reducing national greenhouse gas emissions and this tool could help us all do that. The UK Government must also urgently raise the ambition of our National Dietary Guidelines to ensure they are in line with global health and environmental targets.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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Pippa Neill

Pippa Neill

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