The latest report by a United Nations body urging countries to curb meat consumption to help stop the devastating impacts of climate change has received little political, media and public attention in Turkey.
Timing was somewhat unfortunate as the country is getting ready to celebrate Eid ul-Adha (Kurban Bayramı), one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar when millions of animals are ritually slaughtered.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has raised serious concerns about land and water use practices, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, unsustainable agriculture, over-consumption and food waste.
The report, put together by more than 100 scientists from 52 countries, warned that these harmful human activities were threatening the world’s ability to fight climate change.
The negative impact of global warming is becoming more evident everywhere and inefficient land use is contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
The IPCC is advising governments to adapt sustainable farming practices, reduce food waste and promote more plant-based diets.
Reducing meat consumption is important because using the land for meat and dairy production have a high carbon footprint. Red meat production is particularly problematic because of the methane emitted by cattle and sheep.
According to the report, if the world’s population eats less meat, emissions could fall by up to 8 billion tonnes a year.
About 25-30 per cent of food produced worldwide gets wasted and that accounts for 8-10 per cent of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.
Stopping deforestation and degradation of ecosystems are other priorities. Healthy natural forests that draw down carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are crucial.
Scientists that contributed to the latest IPCC report are saying that we are facing a planetary emergency and no country has time to waste.
Located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean basin, Turkey is expected to feel the effects of climate change in not so distant future.
According to a study conducted by the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich University, the future climate conditions of Turkish cities will resemble those of much hotter places. Average temperature in Ankara may be like today’s Tashkent; Istanbul will resemble Rome; Adana will be more like Nicosia.
Turkey is the world’s 20th largest emitter of greenhouse gases and with its growing economy and energy needs, emissions are set to rise significantly.
Almost every key point of concern expressed by the IPCC report directly apply to today’s Turkey. However, climate change and its likely impact does not yet seem to be a concern for many.
As for “eating less meat to save the Earth” pleas; they are particularly bound to fall on deaf ears.
This post is also available in: Turkish