Sustainability / Environment

European Environment Agency Urges Plant-Based Transition to Avoid Catastrophic Effects of Climate Change

A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) has underlined the importance of a shift towards plant-based foods to address climate change.

The European Climate Risk Assessment report notes that the Farm to Fork Strategy and international dietary guidelines call for reduced animal product consumption and a shift towards plant-based diets. The authors find that this would reduce freshwater consumption and dependency on imported animal feed, while achieving healthier dietary patterns.

Reducing animal product consumption would also free up a substantial quantity of cereal crops for human consumption. This is notable and significant since plentiful research suggests that climate change will negatively impact food security.

The report finds a high probability that climate change will have substantial, critical, or catastrophic impacts on livestock rearing, crop production, fisheries, aquaculture, human health, and other areas. Furthermore, the authors believe that some current EU policies, such as the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, do not adequately consider climate risks and adaptation.

A collection of plant based foods
Image courtesy of Vegtech Invest

Reducing resource use

Countless studies have now confirmed the importance of plant-based diets in addressing climate change. A study published by prominent scientists last year found that removing animals from the food system could offset the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions by 68%, while other research has found that swapping half of animal foods for plant-based alternatives could virtually halt deforestation.

A UK study published last July found that plant-based diets could reduce water use by 54%, wildlife destruction by 66%, and methane production by a huge 93%. Meanwhile, the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change has recommended shifting subsidies away from animal agriculture to decrease the production and consumption of animal foods.

“Dietary shifts towards reduced consumption of animal-based products and reducing food waste can greatly improve the resource use efficiency of food production and improve food security under current and future climate conditions,” says the new EEA report.

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