Climate Change Meeting to Unveil Latest Science on Reducing Emissions Rapidly

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Recent research suggests dietary change may be the best option for preserving global food security and protecting nations vulnerable to climate change.

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We would also like to see governments supporting such a change

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The World Preservation Foundation is hosting a meeting on Wednesday 3rd November at the Central Hall in Westminster, bringing together over 20 international climate change, environment and food experts, as well as members of parliament and civil society to consider recent studies highlighting fast-acting, cost-effective climate change mitigation strategies.

Extreme events over this past summer, particularly in Russia and Pakistan, have highlighted how vulnerable society and the food supply are at only 0.8C of global average temperature increases. A recent WWF report estimate global emissions may be 30 percent higher than levels needed to keep global average temperature increases to under 2C by 2020.

These events have underscored the concerns of vulnerable, developing nations, who have called for international climate change agreements to agree to limit global average temperature increases to no more than 1.5C.

Fortunately, climate science has evolved significantly in the past few years to offer some solutions, which will be the focus of the conference. The conference will introduce the concept of shorter-lived climate forcers. These are greenhouse gases and aerosols, namely methane, ozone and black carbon, which are much more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat within the atmosphere. However, they also dissipate out of the atmosphere fairly quickly, especially compared to CO2 from fossil fuels, which has a very long-tailed life in the atmosphere, and is expected to be affecting the environment for thousands of years.

The latest research on methane indicates it is 100 times more potent than CO2 over 20 year time periods, and that it's half life in the atmosphere is only 12 years. Although not as potent, tropospheric ozone is the third most prevalent greenhouse gas after CO2 and methane, and dissipates out of the atmosphere in about 22 days. Because it can be created with methane as a building block, reducing methane levels will result in lower ozone levels.

Black carbon, which is now believed to be responsible for nearly half of warming in the Himalayas and the Arctic, may be over 2000 times more potent than CO2, but it only lasts a few months. Black carbon has also been discovered in the most rapidly warming regions of Antarctica. Around 35 to 50 percent of black carbon in Antarctica is linked to slash and burn agriculture associated with grazing livestock and growing soya fed to livestock in the Amazon. Although research has not yet been done estimating the relative warming effect of black carbon in Antarctica, the speed at which the region is melting and the potential implications for sea level rise and global food security suggest the importance of reducing the structural causes of the black carbon.

The conference also focuses on the significant role livestock and dietary choices play in climate change and environmental destruction. World Preservation Foundation co-founder Dr. Hsien Hui Khoo states "From the very beginning, climate change has been linked to carbon dioxide from fossil fuels. Over the years as our understanding has become more sophisticated, we have realized that there are other structural causes that have an equal or greater effect. The livestock industry and dietary choices fit into that category. It has also been discovered that much of the warming over the next 20 years will be coming from these other non-CO2 climate forcers. Because of CO2's long life in the atmosphere, we believe our best chance is to places greater emphasis on reducing methane, ozone and black carbon, especially through dietary change."

Because livestock account for significant amounts of these shorter-lived climate forcers, eating more plant-base meals appears to provide the least-expensive solution for grassroots action against climate change.

"We would also like to see governments supporting such a change," Dr. Khoo states, "Society depends upon a viable farming industry, and that depends upon governments taking some actions by switching subsidies to plant-based foods and promoting plant-based eating in schools and government canteens."

Those interested the conference can find more information at http://www.worldpreservationfoundation.org , including speakers, locations and sign up information. Others may participate by watching the event via streaming media at the World Preservation Foundation website.

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