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Everyday lifestyle changes could prevent ‘climate catastrophe’

Assortment of vegetables

Rapid and significant changes are required to ensure the survival of the planet, says IPCC

By Aimee Gabay

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a special report on the impact of global warming urging people to make rapid and significant changes to their everyday lifestyle choices.

On an individual level, one of the changes scientists believe will make a significant difference is a change in diet, recommending people eat less meat and dairy and buy more locally sourced seasonal food. Dr Debra Roberts who chairs the IPCC said in a statement to the BBC: “You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use.”

For some, especially university students, this may prove to be particularly difficult given the limited time and money available to experiment with new products and recipes. When questioned on their opinion of meat and dairy reduction as a way of combating climate change, many highlighted how this change goes against their upbringing and may not be the best solution.

Brian Caetano, 22, student of City University London, believes: “It would be very hard for me personally to substantially cut down my intake of meat and dairy products as in essence that would bring down my standard of living.” He thinks, “there are many other ways to prevent climate change that wouldn’t affect my day-to-day life.”

Similarly, Alex Khian Brewer, 20, from London Southbank University believes: “Recommending people to eat less meat and dairy is difficult as meat and dairy are big staples of many people’s diets and I wouldn’t really know an alternative.”

He does, however, believe that “buying locally, more seasonal food is easier to do,” and is something he already does as its usually cheaper.

The majority of answers leaned more towards an acknowledgement of the importance and effectiveness of this solution and many agreed to make a more conscious effort to take on a more plant-based diet. Tristan Martinez, 21, from University of Roehampton says: “If changing my diet to less meat and dairy is going to help the environment I would be willing to sacrifice my current eating habits.”

Postgraduate Mehdi Allouka, 25, from London Southbank University has a similar stance on the topic: “I think with the right guidance and information I would be able to do it as there’s a bigger picture on the line which is the environment, not just changing the way I eat to feel better.”

The world’s leading climate scientists have highlighted the dangerous implications of global temperatures rising above 1.5C, including drought, floods extreme heat and poverty for millions of people. By taking on these changes, they believe it will have a huge impact on these temperature levels.

Photo: An assortment of vegetables and other ingredients for a plant-based meal // Aimee Gabay.