Research led by Oxford Martin School finds widespread adoption of vegetarian diet would cut food-related emissions by 63% and make people healthier too
In three decades, emissions related to agriculture and food production are likely to account for about half of the world’s available “carbon budget” - the limited amount of carbon dioxide and its equivalents that can be poured into the atmosphere if we are to hold global warming to no more than 2C.
While energy generation, transport and buildings have long been a target for governments, businesses and campaigners looking to reduce emissions, the impact from food production has often been left out. But on current trends, with intensive agriculture increasingly geared towards livestock rearing, food production will be a major concern.
More than 5m premature deaths could be avoided globally by 2050 if health guidelines on meat consumption were followed, rising to more than 7m with a vegetarian diet and 8m on veganism. These steps, if widely followed, could also reduce global healthcare costs by $1bn a year by mid-century.