Plant-based meats do more to fight climate change than green buildings or zero-emission cars – Mother Jones

“The widespread adoption of alternative proteins can play a vital role in the fight against climate change,” said BCG partner Malte Clausen. “We call this the untapped climate opportunity – you get more impact from your investment in alternative proteins than from any other sector of the economy.”

“There has been a lot of investment in electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels, which is great and helpful in reducing emissions, but we haven’t seen comparable investments yet. [in alternative proteins], even if it is increasing rapidly,” he said. “If you really care about impact as an investor, this is an area you absolutely need to understand.”

Meat and dairy production uses 83% of agricultural land and causes 60% of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, but provides only 18% of calories and 37% of protein. Shifting the human diet from meat to plants means fewer forests are destroyed for pasture and fodder growth and fewer emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane produced by cattle and sheep.

Europe and North America will reach “meat peak” by 2025, when conventional meat consumption will begin to decline, according to a separate BCG report in 2021. Another consultancy, AT Kearney , predicted in 2019 that most of the meat products people eat in 2040 will not come from slaughtered animals.

Scientists have concluded that avoiding meat and dairy is the best way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet and that deep cuts in meat consumption in wealthy countries are essential to ending the climate crisis. The Project Drawdown group, which evaluates climate solutions, places plant-based diets in the top three options out of nearly 100.

“Alternative proteins have received only a fraction of the investments deployed in other sectors,” the BCG report states. “Buildings received 4.4 times more mitigation capital than food production, even though building emissions are 57% lower than food production.” Switching from conventional meat to alternatives is also far less disruptive to consumers than stealing less or upgrading their homes, according to the report.

Estimates of the different emission reductions resulting from investments in different sectors were made by BCG using a methodology developed by the Global Financial Markets Association. Blue Horizon, an investor in alternative proteins, also contributed to the new report.

Bjoern Witte of Blue Horizon said: “The products consumers see on shelves today will be followed by a wave of cleaner, healthier and tastier protein alternatives as technology helps increase innovation. We are only at the beginning, really.

Dr Jonathan Foley of Project Drawdown said: “About a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food, land use and agriculture, and more than half from these come only from beef. So it’s a very big area to focus on, and one that’s been relatively underinvested in.

“[Alternative proteins] are a potentially significant climate solution,” Foley said. “But this shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone solution and could be combined with many others, including reducing overall food waste, switching to more plant-rich diets, and raising meat and produce. dairy products that we could eat even better.”

Malta said a shift towards plant-based meats could also help alleviate food crises. “You eliminate the ‘middleman’, whether it’s a cow, a pig or a chicken. It’s just math: if instead of giving all those crops to the animals and then eating the animals, you just use the crops directly for human consumption, you need less crops overall and therefore more reduce stress on the system.

The report also included a survey of more than 3,700 people in the UK, US, China, France, Germany, Spain and the United Arab Emirates. He revealed that 30% of consumers would opt for alternative protein products if they had a positive impact on the climate. About 90% of people surveyed said they liked at least some of the alternative protein products they had tried. But the survey found that consumers expected the products to cost no more than those they replaced.

Teresa H. Sadler