The UK needs to halve its meat consumption by 2050 if climate targets are to be met. This is according to a new government-funded report into how Britain will achieve carbon neutrality within the next 30 years. It points to significant reductions in lifestyle – namely the way the nation eats – and livestock production for dairy and meat, which may need to be cut by up to 50 percent rather than 20 percent as previously recommended.

The report once again underscores how plant-based diets are the key to tackling climate change. However, the reduction that may be needed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 is greater than that proposed last year by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the government’s official advisors. 

In January, the CCC stressed the UK would not achieve the government’s 2050 Net Zero target – in 2019 the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to this target – without major changes in the way land is used, farming and what people eat. 

This is a recurring theme and the new report by research group Energy Systems Catapult once again highlights how dietary changes are needed to slow the impact of climate change. 

“Reducing meat and dairy consumption by 20 percent will deliver 8 MtCO2e saving by 2050 versus today. However, this may need to be reduced by 50 percent (19 metric tons CO2 emissions saved) depending on the success of low carbon deployment,” says the new analysis. 

On land use, it says that “planting a forest up to 50,000 hectares every year may be needed for carbon sequestration and offsetting up to 33 metric tons CO2 per year  by 2050.”
Considerable differences in farming are needed to avoid the dangers of a warming planet and the challenges of feeding a growing population in a world with more drought, floods and extreme heat.