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UK Researchers Blame Western Eating Habits for Climate Change

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An ongoing increase in meat and dairy consumption could potentially increase greenhouse gases emissions by 80 percent, a joint study from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities concluded.

MOSCOW, September 1 (RIA Novosti) - An ongoing increase in meat and dairy consumption could potentially increase greenhouse gases emissions by 80 percent, a joint study from Cambridge and Aberdeen universities concluded.

"The losses at each stage are large, and as humans globally eat more and more meat, conversion from plants to food becomes less and less efficient, driving agricultural expansion and releasing more greenhouse gases. Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here – but our choice of food is,” Bojana Bajzelj, lead researcher from the University of Cambridge was quoted as saying by BBC News.

The study published Sunday titled, “Importance of food-demand management for climate mitigation,” claims the ongoing trend of Western-style eating, heavy on meat and dairy products, would require a 42 percent increase in farmland and a 45 percent increase in fertilizer use by 2050. Deforestation, combined with current eating habits, could make global targets on limiting emissions close to impossible.

"Cutting food waste and moderating meat consumption in more balanced diets, are the essential 'no-regrets' options,” Bajzelj was quoted saying by BBC News.

The study suggests solutions to the problem including a two-portion limit on red meat and seven-portion limit on poultry per week. Decreasing food waste by 50 percent, in addition to closing “yield gaps” caused by inefficient farming, could significantly decrease agricultural greenhouse gas levels, according to the report.

Greenhouse gases are gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that trap heat in the atmosphere, causing climate change. The countries with the highest emissions are the United States, China, Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and the United Kingdom, which combined make up for 63 percent of total emissions, according to a 2013 study from Concordia University in Canada.

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