We all know that dads love stats, maybe as much as they love eating meat and dairy. So what happens when these two loves go head to head? Try throwing dad some of these jedi-level climate stats and let’s find out.
The UK produces 15 billion litres of milk per year, and the average Brit consumes 70 litres of milk per year, roughly 1.4 litres per week.*
Emissions from the global livestock supply chain are estimated at 7.1 Gigatonnes of CO2e per year.** That’s taking a lifecycle approach and looking at the whole supply chain including emissions from animal digestion and manure but also emissions involved in producing feed, using fertilisers and land usage, as well as processing and transporting meat and dairy.
To put that figure in context, the emissions from all the world’s cars, planes, trains, boats, go-carts, etc. combined is estimated at 7.0 Gigatonnes of CO2e*** (that’s driving, flying or sailing them, not making them, extracting fuel or scrapping old cars).
So yeah, food choice matters.
Cows milk vs. Oat Drink
Oat drink generates 73% less CO2e than cow’s milk – yeah!****
*UK Dairy Industry Statistics. Briefing Paper 2721, 1 May 2020. House of Commons Library. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn02721/
2. AHDB (2020) Change in UK consumer preferences shows need for more cheese, https://ahdb.org.uk/news/change-in-UK-consumer-preferences-for-more-cheese **Estimated global direct and indirect emissions from the global livestock supply chain, (FAO)Gerber et al. 2013: Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock – A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities
***Estimated global direct emissions from transport, Edenhofer, O. et al. 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
****CarbonCloud data for UK Barista Edition Oat Drink climate footprint (0.44 kg CO2e) and British Whole Cow’s milk 3.7% fat (1.6 kg CO2e)
To meet the 1.5-degree goal set by the Paris Accord, we need to cut global greenhouse emissions in half by 2030.*
If you travel by plane and “compensate” by planting trees, theoretically you will be even-steven (if the trees do not die or are cut down) in 30 years, which is tricky given that we must halve our global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.**
Upgrade your diet
Switching to a “planet-based” diet can reduce***:
*1. Rogelj, J. et al. 2018, Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
2. Clark, MA et al. (2020) Global food system emissions could preclude achieving the 1.5° and 2°C climate change target.
**1. Carbon Neutral, 2017. A tree is estimated (through photosynthesis) to absorb about 1 ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere if it stands for 40 years. For this to happen, it is estimated that 10-15 trees need to be planted. Our calculation is based on 10 trees.
2. Rogelj, J. et al. 2018, Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
***WWF, “Plantet-Based Diets”, 2020
60% of the entire mammalian population on Earth consists of human-bred livestock. People (including dads) make up 36%, and only 4% of all planetary mammals are wild.*
50% of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture. There is a highly unequal distribution of land use between livestock and crops for human consumption. If we combine pastures used for grazing with land used to grow crops for animal feed, livestock would account for 77% of global farming land. While livestock takes up most of the world’s agricultural land, it only produces 18% of the world’s calories and 37% of total protein.**
Our appetite for meat keeps getting bigger. A review by the Food and Agriculture Organization projects an increase of 76% in the total quantity of meat consumed by 2050.***
*Yinon M. Bar-Ona, Rob Phillipsb,c, and Ron Miloa,1, 2018, The biomass distribution on Earth.
**World Economic Forum (2019). 50% of all land in the world is used to produce food. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/12/agriculture-habitable-land/
***N. Alexandratos, J. Bruinsma, World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050. The 2012 Revision. ESA Working paper No. 12-03 (FAO, 2012). http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/esa/Global_persepctives/world_ag_2030_50_2012_rev.pdf