16 February 2009

Healthy diet could help climate tremendously

The University of Copenhagen hosts The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change on 10-12 March in Copenhagen. This is the second in a row of climate research stories that will be released up to and presented at the conference.

An area the size of Russia and Canada combined would be freed from use as pasture and croplands, if people switched from meat to plant-based protein starting in 2010 and completed in 2030. A part of this abandoned area would grow back to forests and could soak up huge amounts of CO2,, thereby cutting the cost of handling climate change at a manageable level by 70%

Less drastic measures – as giving up beef and other ruminant meat, or just living by the recommendations for a healthy diet - would still produce huge cuts in pasture needs and greenhouse gas emissions from animal farming. The freed land could be used as a carbon sink by planting forest or used to grow biofuels. The healthy diet option would cut cost of climate change mitigation by 50 %.

These new results from Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency have just been published in the journal Climatic Change.

The results will also be presented at the IARU International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, taking place in Copenhagen 10 – 12 March. The congress will gather thousands of the world’s climate researchers to deliver an update on our knowledge on climate change and how to handle the risks and opportunities that comes from it. The results will be presented to the world leaders as they gather later this year in Copenhagen to discuss a new global deal on how to fight climate change at the U.N. Climate Change Conference - COP15.

Climate mitigation policy options and the economics of acting - and not acting - on climate change, will be among the most prominent discussions at the congress.

The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change is organized by International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU): Australian National University; ETH Zürich; National University of Singapore; Peking University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Cambridge; University of Copenhagen; University of Oxford; University of Tokyo; Yale University.