While governments, corporations, and policymakers have the technology and ability to reduce carbon emissions to avoid further climate change, they choose not to implement them.
They continue to chase money while denying the impact the carbon emissions have on Earth.
So if government and corporations won’t switch over to renewable energy, what can be done?
Well, researchers say that a global switch to plant-based diets could drastically reduce carbon emissions and save millions of lives.
“What we eat greatly influences our personal health and the global environment,” said Dr. Marco Springmann of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, who led the study.
“Imbalanced diets, such as diets low in fruits and vegetables, and high in red and processed meat, are responsible for the greatest health burden globally and in most regions.”
“At the same time the food system is also responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore a major driver of climate change.”
It’s estimated that greenhouse gases could be reduced by two thirds if global dietary guidelines were adopted.
A mass adoption of vegan and vegetarian diets could save about 8 million lives could be saved by 2050, as well as prevent climate change damage and healthcare-related costs worth $1.5 trillion.
About half of the deaths that can be avoided would be due to a reduction of red meat consumption, an increased fruit and vegetable intake, as well as a reduction in calories.
The most deaths that would be avoided would take place in developing countries like East Asia and South Asia.
The study found that deaths would be avoided due to a consumption of red meat in countries like East Asia, Latin America, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western high and middle-income countries.
It also found that deaths could be avoided by increasing fruit and vegetable intake in places like South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The study projects that by 2050, food-related greenhouse gas emissions could account for half of the emissions the world can afford if global warming is to be limited to less than 2°C. Adopting global dietary guidelines would cut food-related emissions by 29%, vegetarian diets by 63%, and vegan diets by 70%,” Oxford says.
This mass change in diet would also save between $700 to $1,000 billion per year on healthcare, unpaid informal care and lost working days.
The total economic benefit that reduced greenhouse gas emission from dietary change could be upwards of $570 billion.
To achieve this, food production and consumption would need to more than double in some places.
Mean consumption would have to be halved globally and cut by two thirds in Western high and middle-income countries.
“The regional detail of our study can be used to identify the most appropriate interventions for both the production and consumption sides of the food system,” said Springmann.
But even a global adoption of dietary changes wouldn’t be enough to reduce food-related greenhouse gases to enough to keep global temperature increases below 2°C.
“We do not expect everybody to become vegan,” Springman said. “But climate change impacts of the food system will be hard to tackle and likely require more than just technological changes. Adopting healthier and more environmentally sustainable diets can be a large step in the right direction. The size of the projected benefits should encourage individuals, industry, and policy makers to act decisively to make sure that what we eat preserves our environment and our health.”
But eating less meat isn’t the only way to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
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“There is no magic bullet,” said Springmann, according to the Guardian. “But dietary and technological change [on farms] are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste.” About a third of food produced today never reaches the table.
Learn more about this study in the video below.
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Source: Oxford Martin School