The UN Wants You to Eat Less Meat
The UN’s is expected to deliver a comprehensive road map to realign global food systems with carbon-emissions goals.
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The United Nations thinks we can eat our way to a greener planet.
The UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization is expected to deliver a comprehensive road map to realign global food systems with carbon-emissions goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement at the COP28 summit later this week. The FAO has already teased out the report’s main course: Wealthier nations need to limit their intake of steak, pork chops, and chicken wings.
Don’t Have a Cow, Man
Cultivating and distributing our food supply accounts for a whopping one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, with the livestock industry accounting for the uh, cow’s share of that equation. Worse, environmentalists say, is the ecological impact of maintaining the livestock industry, which often leads to deforestation and biodiversity loss in addition to methane emissions.
It’s no wonder that climate scientists pushing for a global economy with net-zero emissions by 2050, as agreed to in the Paris Agreement, are pushing for a major overhaul to one of climate change’s major culprits:
- Disclosed carbon emissions at the world’s 20 largest publicly listed meat and dairy companies have increased over 3% this year compared to 2022 levels, according to a recent report from the FAIRR Initiative, a non-profit tracking ESG risks at large companies.
- The UN has previously recommended the industry reduce emissions by 3% annually between 2020 and 2030, and only four of the sector’s top 20 have announced net-zero plans, according to the FAIRR Initiative.
Cooked on a Feeling: The UN plan, according to a Bloomberg report, will eventually include country-specific recommendations and points of emphasis. The typical person in the US consumes roughly 127 kilograms (about 280 pounds) of meat per year. That compares to about 60 kilograms in China, 27 kilograms in Thailand, and just 7 kilograms in Nigeria. Still, influencing consumer behavior — especially around diets and meat consumption — is typically politically sensitive, to say the least. To curb meat consumption here, the government may have to pry chicken wings out of some spicy, sauce-covered hands.