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UNEP GEAS Releases Alert on GHG Emissions from Meat Consumption

UNEPOctober 2012: The October issue of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Environmental Alert Service (GEAS), titled “Growing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Due to Meat Production," outlines the contribution of meat production to climate change and aims to encourage more sustainable meat systems.

According to the October Alert, consumption of meat is rapidly increasing and meat production is currently responsible for 10-35% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The difference between the estimates is due to the exclusion or inclusion of emissions due to deforestation and land use change. The largest share of GHG emissions related to agriculture is from methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

The report notes that average meat consumption globally is 115 grams per day, but this varies widely between countries. In the US, average per capita daily consumption is 322 grams, and in India it is 12 grams.

The Alert recommends further exploration of the human health implications of reduced meat consumption. It also notes that changing the eating habits of the world's population will be difficult and slow to achieve, and will need to involve incentives to meat producers and consumers to change their production and dietary patterns. [Publication: UNEP GEAS Bulletin, October 2012]