A bombshell report from the International Panel on Climate Change was met with urgent calls for those in power to end humanity’s reliance on coal, oil and gas. But among the warnings of 2C temperature rises were stark figures on how methane is impacting the climate. And that is pushing experts to urge the public to eat less meat.
Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is by far the biggest driver of global warming, but the landmark study showed cutting CO2 will not be enough to avert climate catastrophe. Methane emissions – largely from farming and livestock – are second in their impact and increasing rapidly, growing by a record amount in 2020.
All signs point to global populations having to embrace a diet of more plants and less meat in the near future. Here’s what you need to know about playing a part in stopping the climate crisis by reducing your meat consumption.
Is eating meat bad for the environment?
Eating meat in itself is not the problem, but the industrialisation of meat production is a significant contributor to the climate emergency. Large-scale livestock agriculture – meaning more and more cows and other animals used in farming – produces huge amounts of methane.
Methane is particularly dangerous to the climate because it traps more heat in the atmosphere than CO2. Methane has a “warming potential” up to 87 times greater than carbon dioxide, though it lingers in the atmosphere for around a tenth as long.
Global temperatures have already risen by around 1.1C on pre-industrial levels, the IPCC said, with methane responsible for 0.3C of that warming.