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UK could slash CO2 by 10% now: Just cut out meat

bbq-ribsLooking for a low-tech solution to climate change? The UK could achieve almost 30 per cent of its 2020 carbon emissions reductions goal tomorrow in one fell swoop … all Britons have to do is stop eating meat.

Yes, we know: there’s nothing like an “eat less meat” post to raise the hackles of die-hard carnivores, but bear with us here. The numbers are pretty clear:

As of 2006, the UK’s per-capita carbon emissions were 9.4 metric tonnes per annum.

A 2005 University of Chicago study calculated that the typical US diet, with its heavy emphasis on meat, causes the average person’s carbon footprint to increase by 1,485 kilograms of carbon dioxide-equivalent (PDF), compared to an all plant-based diet.

Adjusting for the UK’s smaller per-capita meat consumption (79.6 kilograms per person, compared to 124.8 kilograms per person in the US), the British meat-related carbon footprint comes to 947.54 kilograms, or 0.947 tonnes) of carbon dioxide-equivalent per person (79.6/124.8 x 1,485).

Take that 0.947 tonnes away from the per-capita carbon footprint of 9.4 metric tonnes and — voila — an immediate 10 per cent reduction of the UK’s CO2 emissions.

As The Daily Show’s John Hodgman says, “You’re Welcome.”

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