Consumers may have to cut down on their dairy and meat consumption, else the 2°C climate target will be “off the table”, a new report suggests.
The livestock sector accounts for a large chunk of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – 14.5% of the global total, which is more than emissions from transportation across the world.
Experts have estimated going above a 2°C global average temperature could lead to the worst impacts of climate change such as extreme and unpredictable weather conditions.
The new report commissioned by think-tank Chatham House surveyed around 12,000 people across 12 countries to see if people linked the relationship between eating meat and dairy to climate change.
It found a big “awareness gap” as 64% said transport was a driving force while a mere 29% thought livestock had an impact on climate change. The report however claims “overall emission is almost equal between the two sectors”.
Rob Bailey Acting Research Director, Energy, Environment and Resources at Chatham House said: “Unless something is done about the inexorable rise in emissions from the livestock sector, which already accounts for about 14.5% of global emissions, the expected trend is upwards because meat and dairy are two of the fastest growing sub-sectors of agriculture.”
“There is an increasing body of academic research that is of the view that unless something is done then the 2°C target is off the table because there is not going to enough of the available global carbon budget left.”
The report also revealed the US, Europe, China and Brazil are the biggest meat consumers but the US as well as the UK appear “less responsive” to behaviour changes in diets.
Meat and dairy consumption is however expected to rise by 76% by 2050.