Go veggie to save the planet, urges leading climate change guru
By Matt Dickenson
Tuesday October 27 2009
One of the world’s leading climate change gurus urged people to become vegetarian, to help beat global warming.
Nicholas Stern, the author of an influential 2006 review of climate change, said methane emissions from cows and pigs were putting “enormous pressure” on the world and people needed to think about what they ate.
“Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It put enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better,” he said.
The former World Bank chief economist was speaking ahead of the climate change conference in Copenhagen this December, which is expected to be attended by thousands of delegates from around the world.
Stern said a successful conference would result in higher costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
He also compared his stance on meat to the change in attitudes to drink-driving.
“I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he added.
“I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student.
“People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”
Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and it has been estimated that livestock accounts for a fifth of the global warming impact.
Stern said if business continued as usual, then temperatures could increase by 5C by early next century.
– Matt Dickenson