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HomeNewsMeat, dairy, rice production will raise global temp by 1.5°C: Study

Meat, dairy, rice production will raise global temp by 1.5°C: Study

A study published in Nature Climate Change has now warned that unless high-methane emitting food is not tackled. The study has marked that the methane emission from the food consumed alone or the food system alone will drive up the global temperatures by 1.5 degree Celsius. 

The study has shown that climate-heating emissions from food production, dominated by meat, dairy and rice, will by be responsible for breaking the key international target of 1.5 degree Celsius, if left unchecked. 

As quoted by Guardian, the analysis estimated that if today’s level of food emissions continued, they would result in at least 0.7degree Celsius of global heating by the end of the century, on top of the 1degree Celsius rise already seen.

This means apart from fossil fuels, food system including dairy, meat and rice will drive up the global warming process to a worrisome level. 

The study showed that 75% of this food-related heating was driven by foods that are high sources of methane, ie those coming from ruminant livestock such as cattle, and rice paddy fields. However, the scientists said the temperature rise could be cut by 55% by cutting meat consumption in rich countries to medically recommended levels, reducing emissions from livestock and their manure, and using renewable energy in the food system.

“Methane has this really dominant role in driving the warming associated with the food systems,” said Catherine Ivanovich, at Columbia University in the US, who led the research. “Sustaining the pattern [of food production] we have today is not consistent with keeping the 1.5C temperature threshold. That places a lot of urgency on reducing the emissions, especially from the high-methane food groups.”

However, it is to be noted that the contribution of food system in the depletion of ozone layer in the atmosphere is a complicated notion.

Cutting methane emissions from cattle using feed additives and better management of manure could avoid another 0.2C, the researchers said, while switching to green energy in the food system would cut 0.15C. Ivanovich said the emissions reductions options included in the study were those possible today but that future technological advances might be able to reduce emissions further.

Only a third of the world’s countries have included policies to cut emissions from agriculture in the climate plans they have submitted under the UN Paris agreement. The researchers said their work was aimed at increasing the understanding of the impact of global food consumption on future global heating. Ivanovich also said policies to cut emissions had to protect access to food and livelihoods for vulnerable populations.

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