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Consuming less meat one of top four ways to cut emissions

A new study has identified “eating a plant-based diet” as one of the four actions that would have the greatest impact on an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The experts from Lund University in Sweden analysed 39 peer-reviewed articles, carbon calculators and government sources to quantify the most high-impact personal lifestyle choices in developed countries.

“There are so many factors that affect the climate impact of personal choices, but bringing all these studies side-by-side gives us confidence we’ve identified actions that make a big difference,” said lead author Seth Wynes.

The study found that, on average, eating a plant-based diet saves about 0.8 tonnes CO2-equivalents a year. To put this into context, the shift in consumption would save about four times more greenhouse gas emissions per year than recycling.

Flying less, ditching the car and having fewer children were the other changes that would have the most impact.

However, the authors found that government recommendations often overlooked these key actions, focusing instead on small, incremental changes.