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Report: Reduced Meat And Dairy Consumption Crucial To Fighting Climate Change

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(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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By Chelsea Karnash

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We can have our planet, or we can have our meat and dairy.

That’s the takeaway from a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

According to the research, which is published in the journal Climate Change, the only way to keep global warming below the UN’s goal of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is to reduce our meat and dairy consumption – fast.

That’s because the agricultural emissions resulting from attempting to sustain current levels of meat and dairy consumption coupled with an increase in the global population pose a major problem when paired with the top sources of greenhouse gas, which are transportation and energy.

“This paper indicates that, under current trends, food-related agricultural emissions of CH4 and N2O may increase to about 12.7 Gton CO2eq/year by the year 2070. This is likely to be larger than the total CO2-equivalent emission level compatible with meeting the 2 °C limit,” researchers conclude. “Only by also assuming reduced meat and dairy consumption do we find agricultural emission levels that do not take more than half of the total emissions space in 2070.We therefore conclude that dietary changes are crucial for meeting the 2 °C target with high probability.”

So, just how much less are researchers suggesting?

“”It all depends how much we can and want to do in the energy sector,” lead researcher Hedenus explains to the National Journal.”If we do a lot there it may be sufficient with a 25 percent lower meat and dairy consumption than predicted in 2070. If we do less, somewhere around 75 percent less may be reasonable.”

In other words, bring on the tofu.

To see the full report, click here.

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