Government’s food tsar admits slashing meat and dairy is only way to avoid climate breakdown

Read Time:   |  17th August 2022

Henry Dimbleby says getting the public to cut down on meat will be 'politically toxic' but essential to meet the UK's climate targets.

The government’s food tsar has admitted the only way to avoid a complete climate breakdown is by heavily cutting our consumption of meat and dairy. 

Henry Dimbleby, of DEFRA, said getting the public to eat less meat would be ‘politically toxic’ – but essential if the UK wants to meet its biodiversity and climate targets. 

In an interview with The Guardian, he said: “It’s an incredibly inefficient use of land to grow crops, feed them to a ruminant or pig or chicken which then over its lifecycle converts them into a very small amount of protein for us to eat.

“If we fail on this, we will fail to meet our biodiversity or climate goals in this country. We also have a huge opportunity to show thought leadership worldwide, and show them that this can be done, that we can farm sustainably and still feed people.”

However, Dimbelby ruled out a meat tax – suggesting such as policy would result in the government falling ‘within a fortnight’.

He added: “There’s no point recommending impossible things. It goes right back to Magna Carta, the idea of what I do on my land is my business. 

“Even though the government wouldn’t be implementing a kind of Stalinist five-year plan, there would still be a combination of incentives and regulation”. 

Climate breakdown

According to an Oxford University study published in the journal Climatic Change, meat-eaters are responsible for almost twice as many dietary greenhouse gas emissions per day as vegetarians and about two and a half times as many as vegans.

The research found the dietary greenhouse gas emissions among meat-eaters were between 50 and 54 percent higher than those of vegetarians and between 99 and 102 percent higher than those of vegans.

Source: The Guardian

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