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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Diets rich in plants and low in red meat and sweet snacks produce much less greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), a new UK study into the effects of diet on the climate crisis has found.

Meat accounts for more than a quarter of diet-related emissions, the paper says. Additionally, dairy made up 14 percent, with cakes and biscuits amounting to eight percent.

Researchers found those who ate meat produced almost two-thirds more emissions than vegetarians. The academics urge for more stringent policies championing plant-based diets.

Healthier diets in the study had lower GHG emissions, demonstrating consistency between planetary and personal health.

It’s not just emissions that diet affects. As the researchers outline here, our food choices contribute to air and water quality, soil health, biodiversity, all encapsulated within climate breakdown.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 14.5 percent of GHGs.

Other sources claim this number is far higher – at even 87 percent, as many argue figures don’t include the effect of land clearing for farming.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that a global temperature rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels is approaching.

Climate crisis symptoms could be irreversible without urgent intervention.

The report, which details how climate breakdown is impacting the world, is its most comprehensive assessment to date.

The paper was put together by 234 scientists from 65 countries. They reviewed more than 14,000 scientific papers.

It says that it is more likely than not that global heating will hit 1.5C within the next 20 years, which is sooner than previously predicted.

The Paris Agreement cautioned against these figures in 2015. It’s part of the agreement’s goal of limiting global heating to well below 2C compared to pre-industrial levels. Ideally, global warming would not exceed 1.5C.

At 1.5C, some climate crisis symptoms, like global sea level rise, could be irreversible for centuries to millennia, the report says.