Eating Less Meat Isn’t “Going Green”
According to researchers out of the University of Edinburgh, reducing the meat consumption from one of the world’s biggest beef producing regions might not lower greenhouse gas emissions. The study that was published in the journal Nature Climate Change, evaluated the Brazilian Cerrado and found that reducing beef production could actually increase global greenhouse gas emissions.
Due to the poor condition of Brazil’s grassland, there is low beef productivity and high greenhouse gas emissions from cattle. But with an increase in the demand for beef, farmers have the incentive to fix the grassland that has a higher than normal ability to hold carbon due to its deep roots. Overall, this would increase cattle productivity and would require less land for grazing and reduce deforestation, potentially lowering emissions. So, if the demand for beef goes down enough, emissions could go up.
The researchers worked out that if demand for beef is 30 percent higher by 2030 compared with current estimates, net emissions would decrease by 10 percent. Reducing demand by 30 percent would lead to nine percent higher emissions, provided the deforestation rates are not altered by a higher demand. However, if deforestation rates increase along with demand, emissions could increase by as much as 60 percent.
For more information, read the full study.