What you eat ‘can change the climate’

CUT the heat by what you eat. That’s will be the message from a Northumberland lecturer tomorrow who will call on people to reduce greenhouse emissions by changing their diet.

Jan Deckers

CUT the heat by what you eat. That’s will be the message from a Northumberland lecturer tomorrow who will call on people to reduce greenhouse emissions by changing their diet.

Jan Deckers, who lectures in health care ethics at Newcastle University, said that individuals could help tackle climate change by eating less meat and dairy products – or giving them up altogether.

Mr Deckers, who lives in Rothbury, has been a vegetarian for the last 10 years.

He will make his plea in a public talk, cost £2, at St Michael’s Church Hall in Canongate, Alnwick, tomorrow at 7.30pm as part of a series of climate change lectures organised by Alnwick Area Friends of the Earth.

“When most people think of climate change, they look at issues like transport and energy, but not at their diet,” said Mr Deckers.

But he said that globally, greenhouse gas emissions from farming animals exceeds those produced by the transport sector.

He said that there are three times as many farmed animals, such as sheep, cattle and goats, than people in the world. Emissions came from making and transporting animal feedstuffs and methane emissions from the animals themselves.

Land taken up by farmed animals could also be used for biofuels or forestry.

Mr Deckers said that methane had 20 times more impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.

“Many people are wedded to their cars and central heating and may find it difficult to make reductions in these sectors and maybe it would be easier to reduce or eliminate their consumption of meat and dairy products. By making dietary changes, they may be able to make a positive contribution to the climate and their health by eating less animal products.”

Diet changes could also include eating less processed foods, said Mr Deckers. He said that Britons ate the most processed food in Europe.

But packaging, transport and the number of ingredients which went into processed foods pushed up emission levels.

One alternative would be eating more locally-grown food.

“People often consider how we could heat houses in a more efficient way, or more efficient transport or electricity generation,” he added.

“You can get similar reductions in greenhouse gas emissions just by dietary changes.

“In some cases, locally-produced animal products have the least impact on the environment, but in many situations reducing or eliminating consumption of animal products is the best and fairest choice.”

David Farrar, of Alnwick FoE, said: “We are really pleased to have a speaker of Jan’s standing. This talk will appeal to anyone who is concerned about climate change and want to find out what they can do on an individual basis.”

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