The world’s most-developed nations will be told to curb their excessive appetite for meat as part of the first comprehensive plan to bring the global agrifood industry into line with the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg reports.
The global food systems’ roadmap to 1.5C is expected to be published by the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization during the COP28 summit next month. Nations that over-consume meat will be advised to limit their intake, while developing countries—where under-consumption of meat adds to a prevalent nutrition challenge—will need to improve their livestock farming, according to the FAO.
From farm to fork, food systems account for about a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, and much of that footprint is linked to livestock farming—a major source of methane, deforestation, and biodiversity loss.
The guidance on meat is intended to send a clear message to governments. But politicians in richer nations typically shy away from policies aimed at influencing consumer behavior, especially where it involves cutting consumption of everyday items.
"Livestock is politically sensitive, but we need to deal with sensitive issues to solve the problem," said Dhanush Dinesh, the founder of Clim-Eat, which works to accelerate climate action in food systems. "If we don't tackle the livestock problem, we are not going to solve climate change. The key problem is overconsumption."
The average American consumes about 127 kilograms of meat a year compared with 7 kilograms in Nigeria and just 3 kilograms in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the FAO data. The Eat-Lancet Commission recommends people consume no more than 15.7 kilograms of meat a year.