A world without roast beef: who wants that except McCartney and Stern?
Targeting meat eaters in the fight against climate change alienates ordinary people and won't save the planet on its own
guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 November 2009 17.30 GMT
Sir Paul McCartney arrived in Brussels yesterday to recruit support for his "meat-free Mondays" campaign. The argument seems so easy: cut down meat consumption and the planet will be saved.
But even if a world without roast beef was one in which we all wanted to live (please count me out), we need to think a little harder about what will really work to arrest global warming. Why are Mondays to be free of meat alone? After all, dairy cattle produce greenhouse gases as well as milk. Are we meant to become part-time vegetarians or vegans? And why single out meat? Asia's rice fields emit the same amount of methane as their livestock industry. It seems doubtful that a campaign for rice-free Tuesdays will be next.
The call last month by the government's former climate change adviser, Lord Stern, to give up meat-eating altogether could almost have been calculated to reduce public support for climate change action. In fact, the people's response, according to a subsequent opinion poll, was to deliver Stern a loud raspberry. But the reputational damage to a vitally important cause may have been more serious. Read More
Forcing these reforms, which haven’t been shown will even make a difference, down the throats of people won’t work. The best way to get everyone to buy into these carbon reducing ideas is to offer common sense options that won’t sacrifice our food and energy needs. If the quality of life drops for everyone at the expense of climate change theories, then it will be resented by most and will fail.