People will have to become vegetarians if the world is to cope with climate change, a British global warming expert has said. “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the planet’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better,” Lord Stern said.
According to him, direct methane emissions from cows and pigs are an important source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide in its effect on global warming.
Lord Stern, who published an influential report in 2006 on ways to combat global warming, said reaching an agreement at the climate summit in Copenhagen in December would drive up prices for meat and other products that generate significant amounts of carbon dioxide.
He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve to the point where eating meat would become unacceptable. “I think it’s important for people to think about what they’re doing, and that includes what they’re eating. People alter their notions of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask questions about the carbon content of their food,” Stern said.
Lord Stern, who was the World Bank’s chief economist and is now a professor at the London School of Economics, warned that Britons would need to contribute £3bn a year by 2015 to help poor countries cope with the inevitable impact of climate change.
Stern’s comments were criticised by Britain’s meat industry, who said “becoming vegetarian is not a global solution” but were welcomed by vegetarian organisations.
According to the UN, meat consumption will double by the middle of this century.