One of the world's leading climate change gurus urged people to become
vegetarian today, to help beat global warming.
Nicholas Stern, the author of an influential 2006 review of climate change,
said methane emissions from cows and pigs were putting "enormous pressure"
on the world and people needed to think about what they ate.
He told The Times: "Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of
greenhouse gases. It put enormous pressure on the world's resources. A
vegetarian diet is better."
The former World Bank chief economist was speaking ahead of the climate change
conference in Copenhagen this December, which is expected to be attended by
thousands of delegates from around the world.
Lord Stern said a successful conference would result in higher costs for meat
and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases.
He also compared his stance on meat to the change in attitudes to
"I think it's important that people think about what they are doing and that
includes what they are eating," the London School of Economics professor
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"I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically
since I was a student.
"People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask
about the carbon content of their food."
Methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and
it has been estimated that livestock accounts for a fifth of the global
In his interview with The Times, Lord Stern said if business continued as
usual then temperatures could increase by 5C by early next century.
"These kinds of changes will have huge consequences - southern Europe is
likely to be a desert; hundreds of millions of people will have to move.
There will be severe global conflict."
His 2006 review warned that if the world did not act on global warming, the
cost would be at least 5 per cent of GDP "now and forever".
"Climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global
response," he said.