Your Festive Meal Could Be More Damaging Than a Long-Haul Flight

The Guardian, By George Monbiot, December 25

The figures were so astounding that I refused to believe them. I found them buried in a footnote, and assumed at first that they must have been a misprint. So I checked the source, wrote to the person who first published them, and followed the citations. To my amazement, they appear to stand up.

A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.

This is the worst case, and the figure comes from a farm whose soils have a high carbon content. But the numbers uncovered by a wider study are hardly reassuring: you could exchange your flight to New York for an average of 3kg of lamb protein from hill farms in England and Wales. You’d have to eat 300kg of soy protein to create the same impact.


As the world’s people adopt the western diet, a paper in the Climatic Change journal estimates, the methane and nitrous oxide produced by farming could rise to the equivalent of 13bn tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2070. This is more than all human activities combined can safely produce without exceeding 2C of global warming. Climate breakdown looks inevitable – unless we all change our diets.

One Reply to “Your Festive Meal Could Be More Damaging Than a Long-Haul Flight”

  1. Missing from the Paris Agreement: the Pentagon’s monstrous carbon boot print

    The Ecologist, By Joyce Nelson, January 6

    With both France and the UK now ‘at war’ with ISIS in Syria and joining the US-led bombing mission, the COP21 climate change negotiations in Paris were mysteriously silent on what some critics have called “the elephant in the room”.

    This is, the fact that the military is not just the world’s biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products, but the greatest source of global warming and climate change.

    In fact, even if the delegates wanted to formally discuss that issue, they were prevented from doing so ‘by demand’ of the US government – at least in any official capacity at conferences such as Paris COP21.


    “It is well understood by every possible measurement that the Pentagon, the US military machine, is the world’s biggest institutional consumer of petroleum products and the world’s worst polluter of greenhouse gas emissions and many other toxic pollutants. Yet the Pentagon has a blanket exemption in all international climate agreements.

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