The Candid Eye

December 1, 2009

Stop Eating Beef to Avoid Climate Change: Ramesh

Filed under: Global Warming,India — thecandideye @ 6:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

No, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, a vegetarian himself, was not invoking any ancient Hindu scriptures, but what he said would certainly warm the cockles of those hearts who consider eating beef an anathema.

Citing measures for developed countries to cut carbon emissions, he said, “It has been seen that developed countries which eat beef have the maximum amount of emissions. They can cut down on emissions, if they stop eating beef.”


Meat eating leads to Global warming

“The single-most important cause of emissions is eating beef,” Ramesh said. “My formula is stop eating beef. This would stop the emission of [large amounts of] methane.”“You may laugh at it. But the solution to cut emissions is to stop eating beef. It leads to emission of methane (CH4) that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. But the best thing for us, India, is we are not a beef-eating nation,” the minister went on to add.

He was speaking after the release of the United Nation’s Population Fund’s (UNFPA) report: State of World Population 2009 — Facing A Changing World: Women, Population and Climate.

While Ramesh quoted a number of studies — and global climate change expert R.K. Pachauri — to support his view, the issue has been debated for years.Last year, a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation study found that meat production accounts for nearly a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions — emissions that are causing temperatures to rise, causing erratic rainfall, higher sea levels and stronger storm events.

On the flip side, many scientists argue that meat-eating is good for the environment because it eliminates animals whose manure emits methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent in the global warming scenario than carbon dioxide.

Ramesh’s comments throw the ball back in the court of the developed world a fortnight ahead of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.Asking Indians not to expect much from the climate change conference in Copenhagen, Ramesh said the government would follow a “twin track” approach of not binding itself to any global agreement but at the same time putting in place “ruthless” measures to cut emissions on the domestic front.

“You should not have too many expectations from the Copenhagen summit. It looks like the negotiations would continue,” he said here releasing a United Nations report on population.”It seems there is a long haul before we arrive at an international commitment,” Ramesh added. According to the minister, though climate change is a fundamental issue for India, the country has to look at it from a development perspective.

“I think there is an abundance of evidence to show that climate change is not related in any way to population growth,” he said, adding rather it is more a lifestyle issue.Ramesh said this was evident from the fact that though China was recording negative population growth during the 1990s, its emissions kept on increasing.

“Emissions are caused by consumption patterns. There is no iron law to say that India with its growing population has chances of increasing emissions,” he said.He added that in fact India through its growth model can set alternative patters for growth without leaving carbon footprints.

Ramesh said climate change was in fact a domestic issue for India and the country should be prepared for ruthless measures to tackle it.”India is very vulnerable on the climate front. Nobody is more vulnerable than India. It is really a domestic issue for us,” he said.The response to this is that we act independent of what happens in the international scene, he said, adding, “while we reject legally binding emission cuts, on domestic front we have to be very careful”.

“Low carbon growth will be a part of the new five-year plan,” he added.Listing out some of the measures India needs to take, he said, “We need to have mandatory fuel efficiency standards, a prospective water legislation and renewable energy sources.”This twin track approach will help strengthen India’s position globally.

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