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Abstract

This paper considers a range of issues relating to the contribution of meat consumption and livestock production to global warming given the need highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) to reduce global GHG emissions by over 50% by 2050. The IPCC Climate Change 2014 report recognised that demand oriented measures may also contribute to GHG mitigation. The paper reviews a number of studies which examine demand-led mitigation potentials, concluding that such estimates ignore the market effects of changes in meat consumption habits or demand oriented policies. A simple partial equilibrium model of the beef, poultry, pig and ovine meats is developed for the major regions of the world to explore the impact of a range of scenarios which may reduce meat consumption and GHG emissions. These include emissions taxation, long term trend in reduction of red meat consumption in developed economy regions, and supply side improvements in livestock emissions intensities. The paper discusses problems associated with many published demand elasticities suitable for incorporation into a market model, problems of selection from a widely varying published estimates and their appropriateness for longer run projections. The dearth of published supply elasticity estimates is also highlighted. The modelling concludes that economic and population growth to 2050 without any mitigation measures will lead to a 21% increase in meat consumption and a 63% increase in GHG emissions by 2050. However, the mitigation projections from the scenarios explored only generate a 14% reduction in cumulative emissions from the baseline 2050 projections, insufficient to met the CCC target.

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