Conflicting views on climate change
The recent publication of the IPPC report on climate change has been followed by a series of occasionally conflicting recommendations on the responsibilities of the agricultural and livestock industries in mitigating its worst effects – doubtless prompting Friends of the Earth to launch a ‘Meat Free May’ campaign.
The recent report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the work of 300 scientists from 70 countries – pulled together a huge body of scientific evidence regarding the effects of climate change. The reference in the report to various ‘doomsday’ scenarios such as flooding, storm surges, drought, violent conflict, mass migration and food shortages ensured a keen interest from the media – as evidenced by the reports in the Telegraph and Daily Mail.
A study from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden concluded that, without a significant reduction in the consumption of meat and dairy products, the climate change targets would simply not be achieved.
The European Nitrogen Assessment, conducted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, made a more definitive prediction in advance of the publication of its full report, “If all people within the EU would halve their meat and dairy consumption, this would reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture by 25 to 40%, and nitrogen emissions by 40%.The EU could become a major exporter of food products, instead of a major importer of ,for example, soy beans.”
In response, the National Farmers Union reiterated its view that ‘eating less meat’ is a ‘simplistic solution, to what is a highly complex situation.
This view was supported by work carried out by the Vienna based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, concluding that “The projected transition of livestock systems from pure grazing diets to diets supplemented by higher quality feeds will cut greenhouse gas emissions from land use change globally by as much as 23% by 2030, while improving food availability and farmers’ incomes.”
The environmental campaigners, Friends of the Earth, launched a ‘Meat Free May’ challenge – asking its supporters to forgo meat and fish for the month of May.
Food writer, Joanna Blythman, not usually recognised among the meat industry’s keenest supporters, asked a pertinent question in a recent Second Opinion column in the Grocer – “What are our livestock meant to do in May? Stop growing?”
The Danish Agriculture and Food Council remains committed to reducing the environmental impact of its agricultural production and the belief that ‘sustainable intensification’, and producing food more efficiently, ethically and sustainably has a key role to play in providing sufficient food for a rapidly increasing world population and simultaneously meeting the challenges of climate change.