Consumers in the UK should cut the amount of meat and dairy products they eat by a fifth in order to combat the climate crisis, a new report suggests.
Published by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK government’s official climate adviser, the report said a major shift in land use is needed if the UK wants to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050.
The CCC called for a 20% reduction in the 13.6 million tonnes of food waste produced annually and a 20% decrease in the consumption of beef, lamb and dairy per person.
According to the committee, emissions from UK land use can be reduced by 64% by 2050. The report, called ‘Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK’, demonstrates that this can be achieved without producing less food in the UK or increasing imports from elsewhere.
In order to achieve net-zero emmissions, the report outlines five objectives: increase tree planting, encourage low-carbon farming practices, restore peatlands, encourage bioenergy crops, and reduce food waste and consumption of most carbon-intensive foods.
“Changing the way we use our land is critical to delivering the UK’s net-zero target. The options we are proposing would see farmers and land managers – the stewards of the land – delivering actions to reduce emissions,” said Lord Deben, CCC chairman.
“Doing so can provide new revenue opportunities for farmers, better air quality and improved biodiversity, and more green spaces for us all to enjoy. But major changes are required and action from government is needed quickly if we are to reap the rewards.”
Dairy UK, the trade association for the UK dairy supply chain, said it agrees with the need to reduce food waste but flagged concerns about the consequences for consumers of moving away from dairy.
“We do not agree with the recommendation to cut dairy consumption by 20%,” said Dairy UK chief executive Judith Bryans. “Dairy forms an important part of UK diets, beyond the mere provision of protein. It provides a range of vitamins and minerals which could not be easily substituted, leaving many consumers struggling to replace the valuable package of nutrients they get from dairy.
“The scale of change being requested by the committee could result in the unintended consequence of micronutrient deficiencies resulting in negative health outcomes. We don’t want to see British consumers moving away from naturally nutrient-rich foods towards taking supplements.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019