A new study provides a more comprehensive accounting of the greenhouse gas emissions from EU diets. It shows that meat and dairy products are responsible for the lion's share of greenhouse emissions from the EU diet.
The study found that meat and dairy account for more than 75% of the impact from EU diets. That's because meat and dairy production causes not only direct emissions from animal production, but also contributes to deforestation from cropland expansion for feed, which is often produced outside of the EU.
"Tracking the greenhouse gas emissions of food production is extremely complicated, and we need better methods to do this. Our goal in the study was to better understand the climate impact of EU diets, and how international trade affects our accounting of these emissions," says University of Helsinki doctoral student Vilma Sandström , who developed the study as part of the IIASA Young Scientists Summer Program.
The new study could be useful for decision makers aiming to more accurately quantify greenhouse gas emissions. In addition it highlights the need for better tracking of the impacts of imported food. In particular, this study highlights the impact of imported livestock feed.
The research also provides more information for climate-conscious consumers, reinforcing previous research showing that eating less meat and dairy is one of the key actions individuals can take to reduce their climate footprint.
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