New dietary guidelines could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1bn tonnes by 2030, and could lessen country’s problems with obesity and diabetes.
The Chinese government has outlined a plan to reduce its citizens’ meat consumption by 50%, in a move that climate campaigners hope will provide major heft in the effort to avoid runaway global warming.
New dietary guidelines drawn up by China’s health ministry recommend that the nation’s 1.3 billion population should consume between 40g to 75g of meat per person each day. The measures, released once every 10 years, are designed to improve public health but could also provide a significant cut to greenhouse gas emissions.
The Chinese Communist party has found unusual allies among Hollywood celebrities, with actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron involved in a series of new public information adverts encouraging Chinese people to consume less animal flesh to help the environment.
Should the new guidelines be followed, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from China’s livestock industry would be reduced by 1bn tonnes by 2030, from a projected 1.8bn tonnes in that year.
Globally, 14.5% of planet-warming emissions emanate from the keeping and eating of cows, chickens, pigs and other animals – more than the emissions from the entire transport sector. Livestock emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, while land clearing and fertilizers release large quantities of carbon.
“Through this kind of lifestyle change, it is expected that the livestock industry will transform and carbon emissions will be reduced,” said Li Junfeng, director general of China’s National Center on Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation.
“Tackling climate change involves scientific judgement, political decisions, entrepreneurial support, but at last, it still relies on involvement of the general public to change the consumption behavior in China. Every single one of us has to believe in the low-carbon concept and slowly adapt to it.”
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