Home » Harvard study: Options for a Paris-compliant livestock sector

Harvard study: Options for a Paris-compliant livestock sector

by Madaline Dunn

A new first-of-its-kind report, which surveyed 210 experts across 48 countries, warns that to meet climate goals, rapid reductions in global livestock emissions and a shift to plant-based diets are required, especially in high- and middle-income nations.

The report from researchers at Harvard University, New York University, Leiden University, and Oregon State University gathered responses from climate scientists and sustainable food and agriculture researchers, 60 per cent of whom have authored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

It outlined that 92 per cent agree that reducing emissions from the livestock sector is important to limiting temperatures to a maximum of 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and livestock emissions should be reduced as much as possible to reduce the risk of temperatures exceeding 1.5°C (87 per cent) or 2°C (85 per cent). 

It was considered important by 78 per cent of respondents that absolute livestock numbers also peak globally by 2025.

Specifically, it notes that livestock emissions must peak in high-income (HICs) and middle-income countries (MICs) before 2025 and after 2030 in low-income countries (LICs). 

Following this peak, experts agree that livestock emissions should fall rapidly in HICs (89 per cent of respondents) and MICs (75 per cent of respondents), with most agreeing that the livestock sector’s emissions must decrease by 61 per cent by 2036.

Moreover, 85 per cent of experts agree it is important that human diets shift from livestock-derived foods to livestock-replacement foods.

The most substantial shifts would occur among consumers in HICs and MICs. In MICs, consumer diets would be expected to shift to more plant-based diets, while in HICs, consumer diets would be expected to shift to much more plant-based.

In LICs, consumer diets would be expect to shift from current patterns to slightly more plant-based, it was noted. 

For the full report, head here. 

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