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REPORT: G20 carbon ‘food-print’ highest in meat-loving nations

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The report argues that there are sweeping benefits, both for health and economies, to shifting toward healthier diets rich in legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts.

MARLOWE HOOD: If everyone alive ate steaks and dairy the way Brazilians and Americans do, we would need an extra five planets to feed the world, according to the first report to compare the carbon emissions from food consumption in G20 nations… The report by EAT — an Oslo-based non-profit that has led peer-reviewed research on the nexus of diet, health and climate change — also rated G20 national dietary guidelines…

Argentina tops the list with a diet exceeding climate thresholds nearly five-fold, followed by Canada, Brazil, the United States, Russia and Australia. At the other end of the spectrum, the countries with the most climate-friendly dietary guidelines are Indonesia, India, South Korea, China and Japan…

Among the world’s top economies, only the per capita carbon “food-prints” in India and Indonesia are low enough to ensure the Paris climate target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to the Diet for a Better Future report. In China, where sustained economic growth has boosted consumption of meat and imported foods, the average diet—on a planetary scale—would exceed the 1.5C threshold by nearly two-fold.

Producing food for Earth’s 7.7 billion people is responsible for a quarter of the global carbon emissions that drive climate change. About 40 percent of that comes from livestock production and food waste, with the rest generated by rice production, fertiliser use, land conversion and deforestation to accomodate commercial crops. “Currently, individuals in a handful of countries are eating way too much of the wrong foods at the expense of the rest of the world,” Brent Loken, said global food lead at WWF and lead author of the report…

“This report makes it possible for the first time to compare and track the carbon emissions baked into each country’s national guidelines,” said Corina Hawkes, director of the University of London’s Centre for Food Policy. How the world sources food also has an impact on disease, including viral outbreaks such as the new coronavirus, the authors said. “The current pandemic has highlighted just how broken our food system is,” said Loken… The report argues that there are sweeping benefits — both for health and economies — to shifting toward healthier diets rich in legumes, vegetables, fruits and nuts.  SOURCE…

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