UN advisor recommends meat only one day per week to address climate change

An advisor to the UN World Health Organization is recommending that people eat meat only one day per week, in order to address climate change and public health issues.

Dr. Tim Lang, a professor at the City University of London and advisor to the UN World Health Organization, issued this recommendation shortly after governments failed to agree on a new climate treaty that would yield large-scale construction of renewable energy infrastructure as a way to halt global warming.

Environmental analysis has shown meat and its byproducts to be responsible for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gas. This analysis recommends replacing at least 25% of today’s meat by 2017 with alternatives as a way to achieve the objectives of international climate negotiations.

Mobilizing populations worldwide to replace 25% of their consumption of meat with alternatives by 2017 could be difficult. So Dr. Lang’s prescription for more effort by those who can be reached by his message may be seen as the only way for the world to reverse climate change this decade. The UN International Energy Agency has reported that the next five years could be the last real hope for stopping catastrophic global warming.

Dr. Lang’s recommendations are being seen by some as startling. But climate analysis that supports his recommendations was first published by the Worldwatch Institute in 2009 in the article “Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change… are cows, pigs and chickens?”

Some reports on Dr. Lang’s recommendations suggest that the campaign for Meat Free Mondays started by Paul McCartney with his daughters Stella and Mary might clash with Dr. Lang’s recommendations.

But the McCartneys’ campaign has always suggested Mondays as a starting point, and they recently publicized a new project called “Chomping Climate Change” that seeks to raise awareness on the need to replace at least 25% of today’s meat by 2017. This project is based on analysis by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, environmental specialists employed by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, two UN specialized agencies. The project includes a website and a video posted on YouTube, “Climate Change 2.0: Chomped if we want it!”

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