If global temperatures rise 1.5º Celcius above pre-industrial levels, dangerous environmental changes will become irreversible. To prevent climate change, governments worldwide have taken action to achieve net zero emissions before the global temperature reaches this breaking point. New research shows that eating vegan and promoting plant-based food systems will be the most effective method to stop climate change in its tracks.
After making promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, countries including Canada have fallen behind on their sustainability targets. Canadians can help the country successfully reach its 2030 climate targets by reducing their animal meat consumption by 50 percent, according to a report conducted by World Animal Protection and Navius Research.
The report highlights how animal agriculture will prevent Canada from achieving its sustainability goals due to significant greenhouse gas emissions. The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act aims to cut 40 to 45 percent cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050. The report reveals that to reach net zero, the Canadian population will need to cut meat consumption by 80 percent .
“As the agriculture sector is faced with the challenge of decarbonization, there is increasing availability of meat- and dairy-alternative products on the market, as well as increasing awareness of the health and environmental benefits of shifting consumption away from animal plant-based foods ,” the report says. “Shifting agricultural production from animal- to plant-based foods can impact emissions in this sector due to the emissions-intensive nature of animal agriculture.”
World Animal Protection also highlights how cutting meat consumption will make Canada’s sustainability goals more cost-effective in the long run. The report shows that if Canada’s animal consumption is lower, sustainability initiatives will cost 11 percent less. The agricultural sector will require $4.6 billion and $12.5 billion less in 2030, and 2050 respectively.
The Environmental Dangers of Animal Agriculture
To examine how greenhouse emissions can be most effectively minimized, the organizations used a customized program based on Navius’ existing energy economy model, gTech. The model helps simulates the effects of energy and climate policy on greenhouse gas emissions, energy, and technology to determine the efficacy of climate policies. The organizations analyzed three scenarios where Canada successfully reaches its sustainability targets.
“The findings of this report should be a wake-up call for governments and Canadians alike,” Farming Campaign Manager with World Animal Protection Canada Lynn Kavanagh said in a statement. “Our diets are largely something that we can control and by moving to a more sustainable plant-based diet, we can all do our part in achieving a net zero society.”
The report highlights how the shifting demand from animal-based to plant-based foods will alleviate the stress on the environment and climate change. Since plant-based agriculture is less emissions-intensive than its animal-based counterpart, adopting plant-based eating in Canada could help save the planet. In the report’s reduced animal consumption model, emissions from agriculture are lower by 13 and 29 percent in 2030 and 2050, respectively.
“If future animal consumption is low, the resulting reduction in emissions could be enough, in combination with the implementation of Canada’s ERP (Emissions Reduction Plan) policies, to allow Canada to achieve its 2030 emissions target,” the report says. “There are other environmental benefits of this shift, beyond the impact on GHG emissions, which are not explored in this analysis, including land and water use, biodiversity, and pandemic risk.”
World Animal Protection emphasized that Canada’s government must promote a plant-baed campaign in order to achieve these goals. The report notes that the government should recognize the animal agriculture industry as a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
Plant-Based Foods Are Key to Fighting Climate Change
This month, a report from the University of Oxford found that meat products are up to 10 times more environmentally damaging to the environment than plant-based counterparts. The study revealed that meat-heavy diets contribute to environmentally dangerous production industries.
This report echoes previously established estimates that nearly 60 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to meat production. The heavy reliance on animal products is accelerating the damaging effects of climate change. Over the last year, climate disasters including severe thunderstorms and scorching heat waves have intensified worldwide.
The United Nations’ third IPCC report claims that the world still has time to stop climate change. By adopting plant-based eating, consumers can help support their country’s sustainability initiatives. However, unless governments help promote plant-based food industries, meat production’s damaging effects will present massive impasses for governments and sustainability campaigns.
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