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Food For Human Consumption With Least Possible Environmental Impact

New Zealand and the rest of the world needs to create and distribute proteins and carbohydrates for human consumption with the least possible environmental impact, United Nations high level expert group member Dr Rod Carr says.

This will require the least input of energy, nutrients and water and the least waste, runoff and emissions, he says.

The 18 member high level expert group has been set up to advise the secretary general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres on claims by non-state actors such as companies, cities and regions that they or their products and services are net zero or are on a path to net zero.

The group has met three times and opens a web portal for public engagement at the end of June.

Increasing scepticism about net zero claims based on offsets, many of which are neither permanent nor additional reductions in emissions and have decades ahead of high gross emissions in their pathway to net zero are raising concerns.

How the world might certify, audit and enforce offsets and net zero claims is up for debate, Dr Carr says.

“Claims of net zero fossil diesel oil based on combustion emissions in rich countries being offset by forestry in poor countries threaten to deceive people about the imperative to reduce gross emissions.

“Such claims will taint more credible net zero claims which might be able to be made by the land based sector.’ Dr Carr says.

“Unless we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant meat production to be below non ruminant meat production by a margin equal to sequestration foregone on the grazing lands, our livelihoods from red meat protein production will be increasingly vulnerable.

“The common enemy is time and time lost on the journey to reduce emissions from protein production.

“Science tells us that our fossil fuelled, energy intensive, high emission production system is unsustainable. High emissions lifestyles and livelihoods are at risk of disruption. High emission ways of producing protein and carbohydrates for human consumption will give way to lower emission alternatives.

“In the eyes of some in the developing world, creating 20kg of CO2e greenhouse gas emissions to create one kilo of red meat to make a profit from feeding the affluent few on a starving, dying planet is environmentally unsustainable and socially unjust.

“Changing consumer preferences, alternative technologies and foreign regulators, along with the economics of alternative land use, including reversion, will do much to reduce GHG emissions from New Zealand red meat production this decade. Our farmers have been among some of the most innovative, flexible and adaptive farmers in the past.

“Through breeding, feeding and changing farm practices farmers have raised productivity and profitability, now we must rapidly and dramatically reduce gross emissions. Lifestyles and livelihoods depend on it.”

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