<p>A person eats a vegetarian meal</p>

A person eats a vegetarian meal

Less meat and fewer flights needed to tackle climate change, world scientists say

Sir Patrick Vallance issues joint statement calling for urgent action from world leaders and the general public

Kate Ng
Thursday 28 October 2021 13:45
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Government scientific advisers from all over the world are calling for people to change their personal behaviour in order to help fight climate change.

Sir Patrick Vallance said that along with “rapid, urgent and sustained action” from world leaders to address the problem, people should reduce their meat consumption and take fewer flights.

He issued a joint statement together with nearly 40 other government scientific advisers ahead of the highly-anticipated COP26 conference to urge world leaders to deliver “clear pathways for achieving emissions reductions targets”.

The letter said that limiting global warming to 1.5C was still possible but only with major reductions in global emissions by 2030, with the goal of reducing them to zero overall by 2050.

“It’s going to require detailed plans, it’s going to require technology, it’s going to require behavioural change and it’s going to require monitoring in order to achieve this, including monitoring of emissions,” Sir Patrick said.

“There will be a move away from the extent of meat-eating we’ve seen in the past, and I think we all need to think about our flying habits,” he added.

“But of course, coupled to that, there’s also technological advances, so as options for green transport become real that will change again.

“One of the climate challenges is it’s a series of small things from all of us that turn into a big change. Those little things, that appear like they’re not very much, are important when they are aggregated across many, many millions of people.”

Sir Patrick noted that making more environmentally-friendly choices “needs to be the easy choice” for people, but added that society “shouldn’t rely on some magic new technology coming along in 2035 that’s going to solve the problem for us”.

The statement, which comes as more than 30,000 people representing governments, businesses, think tanks and NGOs are expected to attend COP26 in Glasgow, made clear that stabilising the climate would limit the rise of the sea level and extreme weather events, as well as protect human health and nature.

But it warned: “Even at 1.5C, essential systems will be affected, such as housing, transport, healthcare, food and water supplies, with effects greater on already vulnerable populations.

“Adaptation efforts today will help ensure the continued safety, security and prosperity of our communities and industries.”

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