The World Wildlife Fund has published a new report, Eating for 2 Degrees — New and Updated Livewell Plates, which outlines how simple steps, such as reducing red meat consumption, could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
Globally, 20 percent of total direct carbon emissions are from food and agriculture — a figure which rises to 30 percent when land-use change is factored in. Approximately 70 percent of all freshwater withdrawn is used for agricultural irrigation and agriculture is the most significant source of deforestation — and thus biodiversity loss — around the world. By altering our eating habits and intervening at the production level, we can drastically reduce the environmental footprint of our food system.
The second in WWF’s series of Livewell reports, Eating for 2 degrees shares the minimal dietary changes needed to meet the Paris Agreement commitment to keep global warming below 2°C. The report was developed using Blonk Consultants’ optimization tool, Optimeal, with a country-specific database for the UK.
“What we eat and how it’s produced has consequences for the whole planet. By changing our diet and improving production efficiency in the food system, we can make a major contribution to the impact what we eat has on our environment. Indeed, now that the Paris Agreement is in force, we have binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions and changes to what and how much we eat, as well as how much we waste, will need to be part of the solution,” said Duncan Williamson, Food Policy Manager at WWF-UK.
“This report illustrates what it means for our plate to meet our Paris climate commitments and keep the increase in global temperature below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.”
The report outlines ways to reduce food’s carbon footprint while still ensuring people get a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, two servings of fish per week and a maximum of 70 grams per day of red and processed meat. To achieve this, it suggests people follow 6 Livewell Principles:
- Eat more plants
- Eat a variety of foods
- Waste Less Food
- Moderate consumption of both red and white meat
- Buy food that meets a credible certified standard such as MSC, free-range or fair trade
- Eat fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar
The updated Livewell Plates considers water use and land footprint in addition to carbon footprint and includes updates such as an increase in meat alternatives such as soy, legumes, nuts and oil seeds, an increase in farmed fish and lower consumption of red, white and processed meats. While the first Livewell Plates was developed for adults (18 – 64), Eating for 2 Degrees now includes recommendations for adolescents (10 – 17), the elderly (65 – 85) and vegans.
“What is clear is that we need to have a public conversation around this,” added Williamson. “Our aim is to use this report to shape policymakers’ thinking and put pressure on the UK Government to develop healthy eating advice (in the form of the Eatwell Guide) that incorporates sustainability at its heart.”