Watch What You Eat: We're Not Going to Meet Climate Goals by Eating Like We Do

First Posted: Feb 25, 2016 07:26 AM EST

We're not going to meet climate targets if we keep eating the way we do. Scientists have taken a closer look at farming and have found that emissions from food and agriculture currently account for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and need to be cut by about three-quarters by 2050 to meet targets

In this latest study, the researchers studied a range of measures for cutting food-related emissions. They found that besides reductions in beef and dairy consumption, technology improvements will be crucial in order to meet cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

"Emissions from manure storage can all but be eliminated if the facilities are covered and waste gases are flared," said David Bryngelsson, lead author of the new study, in a news release.

With that said, the technological prospects for cattle are less promising. This is an important finding since cattle account for a very large share of the emissions. This means that a reduction in beef consumption is necessary for meeting climate targets.

"But we don't have to give up meat entirely," said Stefan Wirsenius, co-author of the new study. "Poultry and pork cause rather low emissions, in a range equivalent to 10 to 30 kilos of carbon dioxide per kilo of protein, while beef cause 200 kilos per kilo protein. So we can continue to eat large quantities of poultry and pork-provided that we cut back on beef."

In addition, cheese and other dairy products are serious climate products. If the U.S. were to replace some of the dairy products with vegetable products, though, it would be easier to meet climate targets.

The findings are important for making climate goals realistic. If these suggestions are followed, it may be possible to reach climate emissions goals.

The findings are published in the journal Food Policy.

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