AVIATION & CARBON EMISSIONS

This article looks into aviation and carbon emissions. It follows on the back of last week’s article, which looked into carbon offsetting. The aviation industry is expected to be a major purchaser of carbon offsets so these two issues are closely interlinked.

Jp Valery

The selection of this theme is influenced by my personal life, as I am travelling to India soon, where I will be flying from London to Mumbai.

Looking into the carbon emissions associated with this outbound flight, for 1 economy seat, where the impact of radiative forcing is accounted for, this comes to 1.08 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (greenhouse gasses).

Where the impact of radiative forcing is not taken into account, this only reports a figure of 0.57 tonnes of greenhouse gasses. This is obviously dangerously misleading and why it is so important to account for radiative forcing when reporting on greenhouse gas emissions from aviation.

The UK department for the environment defines radiative forcing as the influence of non-co2 climate change effects of aviation. This includes elements such as water vapour, contrails and NOX emissions.

I think it is important to put the impact of the emissions from that 1 flight in some context. The average carbon emissions per head of population in the UK comes to 9.1 tonnes per annum.

So just that 1 flight alone, would be responsible for 11.8% of a person’s carbon footprint. Which for something which lasts only a few hours is a sign of just how energy and carbon intensive this activity is.

This is why technological innovation that lowers the carbon emissions associated with flying is so important.

You are not going to connect London to Mumbai via high speed rail or passenger ship. The only realistic option is to fly. This makes sustainable aviation essential.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon emissions and aviation.

We looked into the carbon emissions associated with 1 flight from London to Mumbai and the problems associated with not accounting for the impact of radiative forcing.

I don’t believe that aviation has committed some kind of original sin and I believe that technological breakthroughs will make a sustainable and connected future possible.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think needs to be done to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation sector?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

P.S.

Please stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as I am planning on publishing lots of interesting content from my travels in India and Sri Lanka.

CARBON OFFSETS & SUSTAINABILITY

This article looks into carbon offsets and sustainability. Do these various initiatives offer a pathway for high-carbon industries to rapidly decarbonise? Or are they misleading customers and corporate stakeholders as to the true sustainability of a business?

Ian Livesey

There is no doubt that this was all kicked into the mainstream with Easy Jet’s promise to become the world’s first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights across its entire network, announcing that it would offset all jet fuel emissions through a variety of carbon offsetting mechanisms.

This all sounds wonderful, but if everything was as easy as paying others to reduce carbon emissions, so that high carbon industries could continue to emit high volumes of emissions and reduce their contribution towards climate change at a slower rate, then why was this not thought of earlier? The reason, is that what is sold as a bonified solution that stimulates progress is a murky world where emissions may be falling, staying the same or in some cases increasing.

Kevin Anderson, who I have written about before as he is a major authority on climate change was quick to step in with his perspective that carbon offsets do not work as they are portrayed. You can find images of his Twitter thread below.

Kevin Anderson Tweet 1

Kevin Anderson Tweet 2

Kevin makes two really good points in his Tweet. One is that the science and mechanics around carbon offsets is far from settled. The other is around total emissions, rather than efficiency. If you buy planes or other machinery that is marginally more efficient, but you buy more of them and use them more, the carbon reduction gains from improved efficiency will be cancelled out by the increased volume of carbon emitting activity.

In his Tweet, Kevin shares a link to his 2012 article in Nature The Inconvenient truth of carbon offsets. I will pick out what I consider to be the best bits from this article.

Kevin shares the following opinion:

“Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.”

He goes on to explain that:

The science underpinning climate change makes clear that the temperature rise by around the end of this century will relate to the total emissions of long-lived greenhouse gasses between 2000 and 2100.

Kevin then moves on to make what I consider his most valuable argument:

The promise of offsetting triggers a rebound away from meaningful mitigation and towards the development of further high-carbon infrastructures… If offsetting is deemed to have equivalence with mitigation, the incentive to move to lower-carbon technologies, behaviours and practices is reduced accordingly.”

Overall, from Kevin’s analysis, it is hard to take anything positive about carbon offsetting.

Then towards the end of the week, I saw another article on carbon offsetting doing the rounds that really caught my eye. It came from the most unsuspecting of sources, CNN.

CNN article

I was really impressed with quality of this article and for taking on the challenge of explaining to the public that there are no easy solutions. Carbon offsetting is not a panacea for high-carbon, energy-intensive industries to become sustainability leaders overnight.

The only thing that I would improve about the CNN article, is that it is important to include the impact of radiative forcing when talking about the impact of carbon emissions from the aviation sector. Failure to do this portrays an unrealistically low carbon impact from this sector.

But I have to say that it is positive to see a major news outlet such as CNN take on a challenging subject such as carbon offsetting and explain to their readers that this does not offer a magic bullet to addressing climate change.

What you need to know

This article looked into carbon offsets and sustainability.

We looked into the Easy Jet carbon offset guarantee that was recently announced.

We looked into the rebuttal by Kevin Anderson and his 2012 article in Nature.

We also looked into a surprisingly good article in CNN by Julia Buckley which exposes the limitations of carbon offsets.

The key takeaway should be that the whole process of carbon offsetting is fraught with limitations. Some sides of the argument would say that it is an overall negative activity as it distracts from reducing emissions and facilitates increased investments in high-carbon industries. There are those who say it is either a harmless activity or something which is an overall positive in helping to lower emissions in high-carbon industries until such a time that technology allows them to be responsible for fewer emissions.

On this argument I am likely to side with Kevin Anderson as he is a major authority on climate science. If they are even slightly less effective than they are promoted as being and if they distract even remotely from mitigation activities and increase emissions in the short run, then they are a negative force. The onus is on the providers of the offsets and the companies wishing to be declared as carbon neutral to prove that they are leading to overall carbon emissions reductions.

As with most things in life, things that seem simple very often turn out to be a great deal more complicated than originally thought.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think about the effectiveness of carbon offsets?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY PART 4

This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the last in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

plant-page-2

It is based on the book and documentary Meat the Truth, which was released in 2010.

Each article covers a slightly different topic. The last 3 weeks have looked into how global meat consumption is predicted to double in the next 50 years, how livestock farming places heavy demands on land, water and energy and contributes towards climate change. You can find links to these below.

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 1

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 2

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY PART 3

Replacing meat consumption by vegetable consumption is necessary to reduce the impact and emissions from agriculture

 The theme of this week’s article is all about meat substitutes and what role they can play in lessening the impact and emissions from the agriculture sector.

Building on the analysis of the previous 3 weeks, it should be clear that the agriculture sector is currently having a very serious impact on the environment and change is currently needed.

In chapter 1 Harry Aiking shares an interesting perspective on meat substitutes. He had the following to say:

Please note that ‘meat replacers’ generally contain 20-20% egg protein

He also points towards research which showed that transitioning to meat substitutes could result in a 3-4 fold lower requirement of agricultural land and freshwater.

Chapter 7 by Van Drunen, Van Beukering and Aiking on the true price of meat was a very interesting chapter. They highlighted how a Pigouvian tax could reduce the demand for meat products and help the environment.

Such a tax would correct the market failure due to externalities. The average rate of the Pigouvian Tax should be at least €2.06 for conventional pork, that is 31%^ of the consumer price.”

In Chapter 8 by Dirk-Jan Verdonk he had a very interesting perspective on meat and just how sustainable this can ever be considered to be if it ends with death.

Killing and welfare are interlocked: death unarguably puts an end to any state of welfare.

In chapter 10 Jason Matheny produced a really interesting paper on meat substitutes. He highlighted that:

Plant-based analogs have significant advantages over meat. Analogs have no cholesterol and are low in saturated fat.

He also points towards how engineered solutions could be one solution:

Even if plant-based meat analogs gain greater acceptance, some consumers may still prefer to eat meat for cultural or culinary reasons. Tissue engineered ‘cultured meat’ is one possible solution for this market segment.

He also points towards how engineered solutions are not so different from the current meat options that are available:

Although cultured meat is, to be sure, a highly artificial product, little is natural about today’s chicken nuggets, made from a ‘meat slurry’ processed from the carcases of 10,000 chickens raised in metal warehouses and pumped full of drugs.

In chapter 12 Jones, De Meyere and De Geus touch upon the potential win-win opportunities of moving away from meat consumption. They highlight that:

It is striking in this case that healthier diets (i.e. diets with less red meat and processed foods for example) are generally also low carbon – thus opening the potential ‘win-win’ of a low carbon food system (and associated food culture) which delivers better health for people.

They also come forward with one potential solution:

What we need is a food equivalent of the ‘waste hierarchy’ denoting clearly that, in terms of the environment and of health, the best diet is vegetarian.”

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. This was the last in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

In this article, we explored how meat substitutes can lessen the impact and emissions from the agriculture sector.

We looked at evidence which showed that many meat substitutes contain high percentages of egg, how Pigouvian taxation could help this transition, how meat substitutes are a healthier option and how cultured meat could get people to eat a more humane and lower impact form of meat.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relationship between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY PART 3

This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the third in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

Dave Meier

It is based on the book and documentary Meat the Truth, which was released in 2010.

Each article covers a slightly different topic. The last 2 weeks have looked into how global meat consumption is predicted to double in the next 50 years and how livestock farming places heavy demands on land, water and energy. You can find links to these below.

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 1

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 2

Livestock farming (meat consumption) has a major impact on climate

This week we are looking into a very topical subject, meat consumption’s contribution to climate change.

There were lots of good papers on this inside Meat the Truth and I hope to bring you what I considered to be the most interesting parts in this article.

One of the best chapters in Meat the Truth was by Kirsten Oleson, who wrote about the hidden environmental costs of the meat trade. I will quote the paragraph below in its entirety because of its link to the forest fires that are currently taking place in the Amazon.

Our model has confirmed previous studies linking meat consumption with deforestation in Brazil. We show that 5.6 million hectares of land in Brazil supports foreigners’ consumption of pork and chicken; of this, over four million hectares is being used to grow soy to feed these animals. According to FAO, Brazil deforested 2.6 million hectares in 2000, in large part to grow soy, exports of which have increased 11% annually for the past 14 years. Total Brazilian land use to grow soy has nearly doubled from 11.5 million ha in 1990 to 21.5 million hectares in 2004. Our model shows that more Brazilian land is used to grow feed crops for export than to grow feed crops for domestic consumption.

The above quotation sets out in stunning detail the drivers behind deforestation in the Amazon, which is itself driving anthropogenic climate change.

In chapter 3 Danielle Nierenberg highlights how factory farming methods are impacting on climate change:

It is increasingly evident that factory farming is to blame for much of the increases in GHG emissions from animal agriculture. The 15 year period of 1990 to 2005 saw a significant rise in GHG emissions in the United States. Methane emissions from pig and dairy cow manure increased by approximately 37% and 50% respectively – an elevation caused by the shift towards rearing pigs and cows in larger facilities where liquid manure management systems that promote anaerobic conditions, or those in which oxygen is not present, are increasingly used.”

In chapter 7 Van Drunen, Van Beukering and Aiking share some interesting information on the true price of meat. They explain that:

In 2006, the FAO calculated that the global meat sector contributes 18% (7.1 Gton every year) to the total emission of carbon dioxide equivalents.

Which highlights that what we are dealing with here is a major contributor to anthropogenic climate change.

Chapter 15 by Goodland and Anhang share an interesting perspective on carbon and the scale of carbon emissions from animal agriculture. They explain that:

“Our analysis shows that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32,564 million tons of CO2e per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.”

So as we can see, there is evidence to suggest that emissions from animal agriculture may be significantly higher than it is currently anticipated to be, making the problem that much more severe.

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. This was the third in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

In this article, we explored how livestock farming has a major impact on climate.

We looked at evidence which showed that deforestation is taking place in the Amazon for cattle ranging and animal feed stocks. We looked at how factory farming is leading to increased emissions from animal agriculture and the contested figures for how much animal agriculture is contributing towards the total amount of greenhouse gasses. Regardless of the dispute, the number is high.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relationship between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

 

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 2

This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the second in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

4k-wallpaper-agriculture-animal-2350739

It is based on the book and documentary Meat the Truth, which was released in 2010.

Each article covers a slightly different topic. Last weeks looked into how global meat consumption is predicted to double in the next 50 years. You can find this via the link below.

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 1

This week we are looking into the impact that meat consumption has on the environment.

Livestock farming (meat consumption) places heavy demands on land, water and energy

There is lots of good evidence in the book to support the above claim.

Chapter 1 Food and natural resources by Harry Aiking points to a lot of interesting evidence. For instance, that as a result of animal metabolism, on average 6kg of plant protein is required for 1kg of meat protein. Furthermore, the 4 million sq. km that is devoted to feed crops globally contain about 114 million tonnes of feed protein. This is protein that is diverted towards animals with a negative rate of return.

On water consumption Aiking had the following to say:

It is evident that animal protein production requires much more water than plant protein, however estimates vary from 5 to 1,000 fold.”

Chapter 3 Impact of growth in factory farming in developing world by Danielle Nierenberg shed light on the energy intensity of factory farms. She explained that:

Operationally, factory farms require a significant amount of fossil fuel energy… Electricity for heating, cooling, and ventilating factory farms, in addition to powering any other mechanized processes such as manure removal or egg collection, all make up a large part of this energy expenditure.”

In Chapter 6 Meat, climate and the EU Jens Holm shares an interesting perspective. Whilst biofuels are often criticised for the land area they consume, animal feedstock receives far less attention. He explains that:

Approximately two percent of the world’s cultivated land is used for bio-fuels, while nearly 40% goes to fodder production in the livestock industry.

Chapter 8 Overconsumption by Mark Bittman also contains a lot of interesting information on the impact of meat consumption. For example:

To produce one calorie of corn takes 2.2 calories of fossil fuel. For beef the number is 40: it requires 40 calories to produce one calorie of beef protein.

Try to imagine each cow on the planet consuming almost seven barrels of crude oil.”

Chapter 12 Promoting a sustainability transition in the food domain by Jones et al had some eye-opening statistics. For instance, that:

On average, 6 kilograms of wheat is required for the production of 1 kilogram of meat protein (poultry and pork are significantly more ‘efficient’ than beef). A considerable amount (40%) of the world’s total production of wheat is reserved for the cattle stock sector (bio fuels take up around 5% of the total production of grain/wheat. Thus a vegetarian or non-red meat diet is considerably more efficient in terms of ecology, carbon and energy, and therefore more sustainable.”

Chapter 11 Making meat moderation marketable By Tobias Leenaert explains the following:

Meat production is the number one cause of deforestation in South America, and is solely responsible for the destruction of an area the size of Belgium every year worldwide.

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. This is the second in a four-part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

The evidence for this article is based on the book and documentary Meat the Truth.

This week’s article looked at meat consumption’s impact on the environment.

We looked at how converting plant protein into animal protein is an incredibly inefficient process. We also looked into the large area of land that is taken up by animal feed crops.

Animal protein production is a very water intensive process, placing more impact on the environment.

We also looked into how animal agriculture is very energy and oil intensive.

Overall, there are a number of insurmountable barriers that mean that animal agriculture as it currently stands places a burden on the environment.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relationship between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

MEAT & SUSTAINABILITY: PART 1

This article looks into meat and sustainability. This is the first in a multi part series looking into meat consumption and how sustainable this is.

Meat the truth.jpg

I was recently reading the book Meat the Truth, which is a compilation of essays by various authors and is edited by Niko Koffeman. This is an excellent book, with many interesting perspectives on meat consumption and sustainability. I learned a lot from reading this book and I would encourage anyone who is interested in this topic to buy the book and read it for themselves.

There is also a documentary that goes alongside the book, that is also interesting and well worth watching.

I was extremely pleased to see the news last week that the IPCC’s August report Climate Change and Land brought up the impact that meat consumption had on driving climate change. With the corollary being that more people enjoying plant-based lifestyles would reduce the food sectors impact on climate change.

Global meat consumption will double in the next 50 years

This 4-part series looking into meat and sustainability will be broken down into a number of themes. This week’s article will look into the FAO prediction that meat consumption will double in 50 years. This is a truly stunning prediction that is worthy of further investigation.

One of my favourite chapters in Meat the Truth was chapter 2 by Kirsten Oleson titled, The Hidden Environmental Costs of Meat Trade. In it she delivers the following stunning critique:

All phases of livestock production result in significant environmental impacts, whose costs are rarely factored into the market price of the products sold.”

Chapter 3 was also very interesting; it was by Danielle Nierenberg and it was titled Impact of Growth in Factory Farming in Developing World. She highlights the following:

The strongest rise in farm animal production has been in the developing world.

Much of the current demand for meat, egg, and dairy products is being met by industrial animal operations that are spreading across the developing world.

Mark Bittman also contributed to the debate with his offering on Overconsumption for chapter 8. Of the FAO prediction that meat production will double by 2050, he had the following to say:

The truth is that to meet these numbers, the world needs factory farms. There is no other method that can produce these quantities of meat, eggs, and dairy. It follows then, that the only way to reduce fact0ry farming is to demand less meat.”

What you need to know

This article looked into meat and sustainability. It is the first part of a multi part series looking into this topic and is based around the conclusions of the book Meat the Truth.

Meat consumption and climate change has been in the news again recently, and rightly so. It is therefore important that this topic is explored to its fullest extent.

This particular article explored the FAO prediction that global meat consumption will double in the next 50 years and what that means.

It unquestionably means more factory farming; it means more environmental impacts and it means the spreading of a misguided western diet to billions of people in the developing world.

This is something which needs to be brought to the public’s attention and the benefits of alternatives more heavily promoted.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to me on social media. What do you think of the relation between meat and sustainability?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby

WELCOME TO THE FUTURE OF PROTEIN

This article is based on a recent trip that I took to Honest Burger to sample the Beyond Meat plant-based burger.

Menue

Promoting plant rich diets came in as the fourth most effective solution to slow down and reverse climate change in Paul Hawken’s 2017 work Drawdown. If you would like to read my review of this book, please click on the link below.

DRAWDOWN EDITED BY PAUL HAWKEN

Promoting plant rich diets, is therefore something which is integral to a successful transition towards sustainability.

Having enough protein, is crucial to sustaining a healthy diet. I think it is a moot point that ample protein can be obtained from vegan sources such as vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds. People clearly like to eat things that look like meat, hence the success of the Quorn range of products.

At the time, these were great products that vastly enhanced the range of eating opportunities for those following vegan and vegetarian lifestyles. But they were often viewed with ridicule by those who follow more carnivorous lifestyles. This meant that they were unable to break into the mainstream, as they neither looked nor tasted like the meat options that they were intended to replicate.

This is the problem that Beyond Meat was created to solve. If you can use technology to create meat substitutes that look and taste more realistic you have a much bigger chance of becoming a mainstream option enjoyed by large sections of the population, rather than the preserve of those following vegan and vegetarian lifestyles.

Burger whole

To begin with, when the burger was dropped off, my first impression was that it was highly realistic. I have eaten many veggie burgers in my life and this was by quite some considerable distance the most realistic looking burger.

burger half eaten

The next most important consideration is the taste test and, on this front, the Beyond Burger performed exceptionally well. I am unable to provide commentary on if this is realistic to a meat-based burger, but I was dining with my brother who enjoys such products and he confirmed that it was highly realistic. In comparison to other vegan and vegetarian burgers that I have ever tried, it was probably the best that I have ever sampled.

The amount of greenhouse gasses that are released by different food options varies dramatically. As you can see from the chart below, the impact of Beef is enormous, which is worrying as it is a dish associated with status.

Food-footprint

There is therefore a big opportunity for companies such as Beyond Meat to come in with a technological solution to temper the demand for meat, by developing realistic meat substitutes.

These companies are still in their infancy so it is too early to tell whether these substitutes can break into the mainstream. But based on my first experience of the Beyond Burger, where I left exceptionally satisfied, I think there is definitely scope for these options to become a lot more popular in the future.

What you need to know

This was an article about my recent trip to honest burger to sample the Beyond Meat plant-based burger.

Going in with high expectations, I was completely blown away by the quality and the taste of this burger.

Whether you are a lifelong vegetarian or just someone who likes to try new things I definitely recommend that you make the effort to try this burger.

With beef contributing to large quantities of greenhouse gasses and with billions more people this century expecting to have meat as part of their diet, hopefully these types of meat substitutes can continue to increase in quality, so that people have a sustainable and ethical source of protein to choose from.

Thank you for reading,

By Barnaby Nash

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or reach out to me on social media. Do you think these meat substitutes can become mainstream?

Let’s stay connected

I can be reached on LinkedIn and on Twitter @FollowBarnaby