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Experts fault UN climate plan for overlooking 'obvious' need to eat less meat

A UN roadmap to reform the world’s food systems – which account for a third of carbon emissions – has been criticised by experts who say it lacks transparency and fails to properly address the crucial need to reduce meat consumption.

In a commentary published on Monday in the journal Nature Food, academics from the US, Brazil and the Netherlands said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had “missed opportunities” to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while also offering up solutions that could potentially make things worse.

Part one of the FAO’s roadmap – the first of its kind – was released at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai in December. It aims to achieve zero hunger and malnutrition while staying within the 1.5°C climate warming threshold.

The document, which is to include two more instalments, acknowledged that diets “absolutely” needed to change for the sake of human and planetary health, while offering proposals on how to make that happen.

'Major oversight'

While praising the FAO’s ambition, the experts said the agency had neglected “one of the most obvious and urgent interventions" – the transition away from the production and consumption of food sourced from animals.

Failure to reform food systems – everything from the way food is produced, transported and consumed – would make it impossible to stay below 1.5C of warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said.

This remains true even if fossils fuels were to be immediately phased out.

'Risky' proposals


Read more on RFI English

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