From: Sarantis Michalopoulos, EurActiv
Published January 28, 2016 07:22 AM

Meat consumption and climate change linked by EU study

The overconsumption of meat will inevitably push global temperatures to dangerous levels, a recent study has warned, urging reluctant governments to take action.

The world's rapidly expanding population is posing a huge challenge to farmers. A reportpublished in November 2015 by Chatham House, and the Glasgow University Media Group, examined the interconnection between meat and dairy consumption with climate change.

Nearly one-third of the world's cultivated land is being used to grow animal feed. In the EU alone, 45% of wheat production is used for this purpose, with 30% of overall use met by imports.

On a global level, problems associated with rising meat consumption are only expected to get worse.

"Global consumption of meat is forecast to increase 76% on recent levels by mid-century. A ‘protein transition’ is playing out across the developing world: as incomes rise, consumption of meat is increasing," says the Chatham House report. While demand for meat in the developed world has reached a plateau, consumption there has stabilised at a level which is considered "excessive", the report warns.

This will make it more difficult to meet the UN goal of limiting global temperature increases below 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. 

“This is not sustainable. A growing global population cannot converge on developed-country levels of meat consumption without huge social and environmental cost […] Livestock production is often a highly inefficient use of scarce land and water. It is a principal driver of deforestation, habitat destruction and species loss,” the report reads.

Couple eating in a restaurant image via Shutterstock.

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