Time to try a Climatarian Diet?

October 25, 2016 at 12:22 am Leave a comment

The Climatarian Challenge

The Climatarian Challenge

Australians are the second biggest meat-eaters in the world, with the average Aussie eating over 90kg of meat every year. And there is a lot of embedded carbon contained in the production of meat.

Our friends at Less Meat Less Heat have produced an App for your mobile phone: the Climatarian Challenge to help you understand the challenge in reducing the amount of meat in your diet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and particularly meat production.

Just small changes in social behaviour can add up to major demand driven emissions reduction.

You might choose to implement planned behavioural changes such as ‘Meatless Mondays’ or switching from beef or lamb to pork or chicken.

The application will give you a basic understanding of the carbon footprint of each type of meat and dairy. But it leaves which meats and when you choose to eat them up to you, in a monthly carbon budget.

If in Melbourne, you can go to the global launch:

When: 12th of November from 11am to 3pm
Where: Queensbridge Square, Southbank, Melbourne, Australia
Register at Facebook Event

Here is how the app works:

On a global level, reducing ruminant numbers (Beef and sheep) could make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation goals and yield important social and environmental co-benefits according to recent studies (Ripple et al 2014, Hedenus et al 2014)

Methane from the foregut of cattle and sheep constitutes 11% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).(Wilson and Edwards 2009) Methane (CH4) is estimated to have a Global warming Potential of of 28–36 times more than CO2 over 100 years. As it breaks down after about 12 years most of it’s impact is in the short term. The twenty year Global Warming Potential of methane is about 72 times more than CO2.

If we can reduce the amount of methane emissions over the relatively short period, through reduction in beef and lamb consumption and meat generally, it can noticeably reduce emissions and help us to keep the Paris Agreement targets of well below 2 degrees warming and strive to limit warming to 1.5C.

Graph: Average carbon equivalent footprint of protein-rich solid foods per kilogram of product. Source: Ripple et al (2014)

Graph: Average carbon equivalent footprint of protein-rich solid foods per kilogram of product. Source: Ripple et al (2014)

Here is what the Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: December 2015 (PDF) said on agricultural emissions:

Emissions from agriculture include methane and nitrous oxide from enteric fermentation in livestock, manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soils, savanna burning and field burning of agricultural residues.

In the year to December 2015, agriculture accounted for 13% of Australia’s national inventory.

The agriculture sector is the dominant source for both methane and nitrous oxide emissions. This sector also
includes carbon dioxide emissions from the application of urea and lime. Non-carbon dioxide emissions and
removals from savanna burning are no longer included in the agriculture sector, and are now reported under the
Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry sector with the carbon dioxide emissions from savanna burning.

Agriculture emissions have decreased by 2.9% over the year to December 2015 compared with the previous twelve months, driven by reductions in emissions from enteric fermentation and key crops. In turn, declining enteric fermentation emissions were driven by a declining beef cattle population.

The Beyond Zero Discussion Paper on Land Use: Agriculture and Forestry (PDF) quantifies the problem associated with enteric fermentation from ruminants (predominantly beef and sheep) in Australia:

Methane (CH4) from enteric fermentation (EF) contributes 56.2 Mt CO2-e/yr, 30% of all agricultural emissions or more than 10% of total national emissions under standard NIR reporting. This equates to 48% of total national CH4 emissions. Enteric fermentation is therefore an important target for mitigation, as the grazing industries have recognised.

Northern beef production also drives land clearing and savanna burning for pasture maintenance, releasing emissions. The southern dairy industry is also problematic with Dairy cattle producing around 6.1 Mt CO2-e/yr of methane from Enteric Fermentation, which is 10 percent of total Enteric Fermentation emissions and 3 percent of the total emissions from Australia’s agriculture.


Entry filed under: campaigns, Event, food security, news. Tags: , .

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