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Meat has a huge climate footprint, as industrialized as it has become, but it’s unrealistic to think that vegetarians will be able to save the planet, Bill Gates has said at an Indian memorial gathering.
Varying studies attribute between 33% and 35% of global greenhouse gasses to food systems. Studies also vary on what animal-based foods portion of that climate footprint is but all agree that animal-based foods account for the highest share, followed by dairy and rice.
Multiple studies have called on the world’s population to eat less meat in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but Gates says the issue is far more urgent than that.
“Will all Indians become vegetarians? Will all Americans become vegetarians? I wouldn’t want to count on it,” Gates told Indian Express Group director Anant Goenka, as reported by CNBC.
“Anybody wants to evangelize that they’re welcome to,” he added, noting the limited effects of these movements.
A new study by Nature Climate Change projects the Earth will warm by nearly 1 degree Celsius by 2100 from agricultural emissions of methane alone. Unfortunately, that stands to happen even if we “drastically” reduce the use of fossil fuels, such as crude oil, natural gas and coal.
In the meantime, Gates warns that we are getting stuck in a loop, where climate change itself is accelerating our use of greenhouse gas-emitting air conditioning, as temperatures rise.
“It just gets worse and worse slightly every year. But it’s one of the hardest things to fix, because modern economies throughout the globe are based on energy intensity, and over 80% of those energies come from burning hydrocarbons,” Gates said.
Gates, an investor in nuclear energy, also reiterated his support for “third generation” nuclear technology, despite its inability so far to be cost-effective enough.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com