Climate warnings on food would help reduce Irish people’s ‘over consumption of meat’, a leading environmentalist has claimed.
According to the United Nations, 14% of all the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock.
Cattle in particular are notorious for producing large quantities of methane and for every 100 grams of beef, 50kg of greenhouse gases are emitted.
Speaking to Lunchtime Live, environmentalist John Gibbons said people deserve to have the “full information” about what they are buying.
“The research that was done at Durham University found they [warnings] had the effect of reducing people’s selection of meat products by between 7 and 10%.
“So, roughly one in 10 people looked at these warnings and went, ‘Maybe I can skip it [for] this particular meal.’”
Mr Gibbons said even if the climate was not an issue, people should be cutting back for the sake of their health.
“Rich countries like Ireland, we over consume meat products - very much to the detriment of our own health,” he said.
“It’s reckoned that if people in countries like Ireland, if we consumed meat products at a safe level, medically safe levels, the effect of that in terms of the reduction in the amount of meat produced globally would actually cut emissions from the entire agricultural sector by 20%.
“The over consumption of meat in wealthy countries, like Ireland, is a huge driver of climate change… and habitat loss and biodiversity loss.”
'Drop in the ocean'
Lunchtime Live listener Micheál said he was not persuaded by Mr Gibbons’ arguments and said cutting back on meat would make only a “drop in the ocean of a difference” to the planet.
“The average Irish person, 80% of their emissions is coming from their energy use; heating their home, transport, electricity - all these sorts of things,” he said.
“So, the other 20% is coming from a variety of sources, including food.
“So, we’re splitting hairs here arguing about food.”
Last year, the Government announced it would ask the agricultural sector to cut its emissions by 25%.
Main image: Cattle in Norfolk.