Vegans and More Trees could Stop Global Agriculture Absorbing Carbon by 2050

Report Claims Agriculture could Stop Adding to Global Heating

A study of global forests, farming and food systems published in the journal Nature Climate Change has claimed that the world’s agriculture system could be carbon neutral by 2050. But certain lifestyle changes and policy objectives have to be implemented first. 

One of the most important social changes would be for just one in five people in richer western countries and developed emerging countries to go predominantly vegan in conjunction with a third less food being wasted. 

One in five people in the developed and developing world need to go “almost vegan”

The report views the transformation of diets as a distinct possibility as reported by the Guardian. The idea is that one in five people in the US, the EU, China, Brazil, Argentina and Russia could join the vegan trend and adopt largely plant-based diets by 2030. This change in diet would involve consuming less than 2,500 calories a day and no more than 60g of animal protein. 

Poorer countries wound also need to be encouraged to preserve their forests and restore their degraded lands. Globally better farming practices would need to be instigated and more trees planted. 

The authors of this study believe that these priority measures can go about 30% of the way towards the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C above the pre-industrial level by 2050. This is the target called for by the Paris Accord. 

The lead author of the paper, Stephanie Roe, is an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia. She claims that these measures are “feasible”.

“Recent reports on the state of our forests and food systems show a worrying lack of progress in the land sector, and our window of opportunity to deliver on the Paris agreement is getting smaller. However, I remain optimistic because we have all the tools we need, as well as increasing public pressure and political will to turn things around” says Roe.  

If these measures were adopted then, of course, there would be other benefits: healthier diets, preservation of wildlife and flora, and improving water and air quality. 

Land to become a “carbon sink”

Land usage does account for about one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is the equivalent of 11 gigatons of carbon dioxide a year. The study claims that the measures it recommends would ensure that land would now act as a “carbon sink” absorbing 3 gigatons from the atmosphere by 2050.

The study emphatically shows that individuals making personal choices can make a real difference. Going largely vegan is a responsible and environmentally conscious decision. Vegans and flexitarians do not need to be defensive about their choices. This implications of this study are reason alone for people to stop making fun of vegans. 

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Jacobus Lavooij

Jacobus is an experienced editor and writer whose interest vegan issues began with understanding the environmental consequences of the food industry. He loves vegan food and is a passionate communicator of its benefits. He is a Dutch national and lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. Contact:
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