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How Much Can Dietary Changes and Food Production Practices Help Mitigate Climate Change?

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Research has shown that a low-meat diet helps to lower a person’s carbon footprint.

Last week, the International Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body for assessing scientific research related to climate change, released a Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land. This summary outlines ways current land management practices contribute to global climate change and explores potential paths toward better land management that can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and improve land sustainability.

Agriculture, forestry, and other types of land use account for 23 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, according to the IPCC. To tackle such impacts, the IPCC included one idea that’s popping up more and more: a wide-scale shift to plant-based diets featuring sustainably produced foods.

“Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change,” Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, said in a press release. (In the summary of the report, the IPCC acknowledges that factors like financial barriers and cultural habits may influence the adoption of such diets.)

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