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Turn vegetarian and conquer climate change: expert

Going the vegetarian way can help to tackle the problem of global warming apart from its known health benefits to human, according to a climate expert.

world Updated: Oct 28, 2009 00:46 IST

Going the vegetarian way can help to tackle the problem of global warming apart from its known health benefits to human, according to a climate expert.

"Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world's resources. A vegetarian diet is better," Lord Stern of Brentford said.

"Direct emissions of methane from cows and pigs is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming gas," he said.

Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.

"I think it's important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating," he said.

A former chief economist at the World Bank, Stern warned that British taxpayers would need to contribute about £ 3 billion a year by 2015 to help poor countries to cope with the impact of climate change.

Speaking on the eve of an all-parliamentary debate on climate change, Lord Stern admitted that he himself is not a strict vegetarian.

Around 20,000 delegates from 192 countries are due to attend the Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital.

Its aim is to forge a deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to prevent an increase in global temperatures of more than 2 degrees centigrade.

Any increase above this level is expected to trigger runaway climate change, threatening the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

Copenhagen presented a unique opportunity for the world to break free from its catastrophic current trajector, Stern said, adding a consensus was to agree on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The United Nations figures suggest that meat production is responsible for about 18 per cent of global carbon emissions, including the destruction of forest land for cattle ranching and the production of animal feeds.