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Global intake of beef and lamb threatens UN’s climate target

LONDON: Rising greenhouse gases emissions from agriculture particularly with global meat and dairy consumption increasing is threatening UN's target of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius. 

Beef and lamb account for the largest agricultural emissions, relative to the energy they provide. By 2050 estimates indicate that beef and lamb will account for half of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions while only contributing 3% of human calorie intake. 

Carbon dioxide emissions from the energy and transportation sectors currently account for the largest share of climate pollution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change launched on Monday. 

A study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden shows that eliminating these emissions would not guarantee staying below the UN limit. If agricultural emissions are not addressed, nitrous oxide from fields and methane from livestock may double by 2070. 

"We have shown that reducing meat and dairy consumption is key to bringing agricultural climate pollution down to safe levels," said Fredrik Hedenus, study author. 

"Broad dietary change can take a long time. We should already be thinking about how we can make our food more climate friendly," he added. 

"These emissions can be reduced with efficiency gains in meat and dairy production, as well as with the aid of new technology," said co-author Stefan Wirsenius. 

"But the potential reductions from these measures are fairly limited and will probably not suffice to keep us within the climate limit, if meat and dairy consumption continue to grow," he added.

The Times of India (01-04-2014)