Studies & Numbers

Climate Change Committee Report Urges UK to Slash Meat Consumption by 20% by 2030

A report prepared by the Climate Change Committee and presented to UK Parliament has called for more to be done to cut meat consumption in the country.

Called Progress in Reducing Emissions, the report is widely critical of the government’s progress towards adopting climate mitigation measures. It says that legislators have “set out no plans to support the public to shift to a lower-carbon diet”, noting that a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption by 2030 could reduce emissions by 5 MtCO2e and would also provide health benefits. The report adds that the adoption of other dietary innovations such as cultivated meat could save an additional 2 MtCO2e, but the government is currently off-track in boosting these innovations.

“British people want to cut down on meat”

While many British people claim they are already eating less meat, the Climate Change Committee says it is still too early to tell whether meat consumption will fall quickly enough. It highlights a range of barriers that must be addressed to accelerate the shift towards alternative proteins, including investment, technology readiness, safety, consumer acceptability, and regulation.

The report’s authors call on the Department for Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs (Defra) to outline how it will meet the pledges to prioritise alt proteins outlined in last year’s Government Food Strategy. They say the target should be a 20% reduction in meat consumption by 2030, rising to 35% by 2050.

40% of UK's arable land devoted to livestock feed
© Joseph Gray/WWF-UK

“No coherent plan”

There have been some signs that the UK is beginning to take alternative proteins more seriously; in a report last year, the government suggested that novel foods regulations would be reviewed to make them more “transparent and effective”, with a specific mention of supporting innovation in the sustainable protein sector.

A recent report by Deloitte also advised the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) to reform novel foods regulations, allowing sustainable proteins to come to market more quickly. However, many experts believe there is still far more to be done.

“Today’s report makes clear that British people want to cut down on meat – and sustainable proteins offer them a way of doing this without compromising on taste,” said Alice Ravenscroft, head of policy at the Good Food Institute Europe. “But the government urgently needs to act to support this shift. A year after the Government Food Strategy pledged that plant-based and cultivated meat would be prioritised, we still have no coherent plan to build on the UK’s potential to become a world leader in this sector.

“Following the United States’ landmark approval of cultivated meat last week, today’s report is yet another reminder that the UK is falling behind in the global race to produce the meat people want more sustainably.”

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