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Americans can eat meat while cutting global heating, says agriculture secretary | Cop26

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Americans can keep on consuming meat while retaining the world inside secure limits on global heating, the US secretary of agriculture has insisted.

Thomas Vilsack mentioned: “I do not think we have to reduce the amount of meat or livestock produced in the US. And a significant percentage is exported. It’s not a question of eating more or less or producing more or less. The question is making production more sustainable.”

He advised the Guardian in an interview on the Cop26 summit in Glasgow that livestock manufacturing could possibly be made extra environment friendly, and the quantity of methane produced by cattle diminished, which together with different measures to cut back greenhouse fuel emissions from agriculture can be sufficient to cut back carbon from farming.

Ruminants comparable to cattle and sheep produce methane, as does animal manure. The potent greenhouse fuel has a heating impact about 80 instances better than carbon dioxide within the environment, although it breaks down sooner. Meat accounts for about 60% of greenhouse fuel manufacturing from agriculture, which itself is among the highest carbon-producing sectors globally.

The US, the EU and scores of different international locations signed a deal at Cop26 to cut back global methane emissions by 30% by 2030, although not one of the international locations have taken on a agency nationwide discount aim underneath the deal. If the goal is reached, global heating could possibly be diminished by about 0.2C.

Vilsack mentioned: “If you reduce methane by livestock by 30%, by food additives or different feed, or you capture the methane to biogas – take the manure and use it as biofuel – then you have made livestock production more sustainable. I do not think you need to reduce meat consumption to get that.”

He added: “If we are going to feed 9 billion people, you need meat protein. We will need plant, animal and fish protein.”

He mentioned the US was financing demonstration initiatives for brand new know-how and farming strategies that would cut back methane.

Green campaigners have centered on meat consuming as a key supply of greenhouse fuel emissions all over the world, however notably within the US the place a meat-heavy food plan has turn out to be the norm over many years. People within the US eat near 100kg of meat a 12 months, greater than another nation, though there was a development in direction of more healthy consuming amongst youthful folks in recent times.

Meat-eating can also be a driver of deforestation all over the world, as rainforest in international locations comparable to Brazil is cleared for cattle ranches and to supply animal feed.

John Sauven, government director of Greenpeace UK, mentioned: “It’s time politicians stopped giving cover to the industrial meat industry. At the moment they get a free ride and we pay the price for their huge health and environmental impacts.”