Studies & Numbers

Report Says Replacing Meat With Plants Could Slash UK Agricultural Methane Emissions

Independent think tank Green Alliance has published a report outlining how the UK could cut methane emissions by 42% by the end of the decade.

This figure is considerably more than the 30% commitment made by the UK and other countries at last year’s COP26 summit. Achieving it would partially depend on replacing meat and dairy products with more sustainable alternatives such as plant proteins, a move that could reduce agricultural methane emissions by 8%. Shifting towards a healthier dietary pattern, with less protein and more fresh produce, would lead to a further 8% cut.

“With the right investment, the UK could easily become a world leader in this growing field”

The report also outlines other ways of cutting methane production in the areas of agriculture, energy, and waste. A drastic reduction is vital, since methane has 80 times more warming potential than CO2 in the 20 years after it is emitted.

Sabra field hummus sesame seeds
©PRNewsfoto/Sabra Dipping Company, LLC

“Unprepared for transition”

Last year, a report by investor network FAIRR raised concerns that the animal agriculture industry was unprepared for the transition to a more sustainable food system. The organisation pointed out that just 18% of the animal protein companies assessed tracked any of their methane emissions, with these figures often only partial.
However, figures from the UN reveal that 30% of people worldwide support promoting plant-based diets as a climate policy, with this number rising to as much as 42% in some regions.
“This [methane] report shows how creating a thriving sustainable protein industry would be a crucial step in not only meeting our targets, but cementing the UK’s status as a climate champion,” said Linus Pardoe, UK Policy Manager at the Good Food Institute Europe. “With the right investment, the UK could easily become a world leader in this growing field, providing exciting opportunities for green growth, complementing the best of British farming and creating quality jobs. But we need to see ambitious and coordinated measures now to make sure the UK does not fall behind other countries such as Israel and the United States.”
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