The global food system represents 29% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. At least half of this (14.5% of emissions) is from animal production — more than the entire transportation sector.
With rising incomes and population growth, global demand for meat and dairy is projected to rise 70% by 2050. Even if we reduce emissions from all non-food sectors and produce food more efficiently, without a shift away from meat and dairy consumption in high-consuming populations, temperature rise will likely exceed the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, let alone the more ambitious — yet critical — 1.5 degree goal.
The potential of dietary shifts as a climate solution is missing from the global climate change conversation. So far, most proposals for reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions have focused on changes to production. Yet, science shows that demand-side solutions are essential to have a reasonable chance at reaching global climate goals.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are part of the solution. CSOs have a wealth of scientific expertise and connections with citizens most affected by the impacts of climate change, so they understand the range of potential solutions required to effectively shift animal food demand.
Tough issues like climate change require many innovative solutions and local communities have vital expertise, which CSOs can help bring to the climate solutions table as state and non-state actors alike decide how to meet and exceed Paris Agreement goals.
Photo credits: Industrial feedlot courtesy of David Oliver/Flickr; Peoples Climate March courtesy of Brighter Green.