Farmers have hit out at the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) Sixth Carbon Budget report which lumps eating red meat and dairy in with air travel and gas boilers as the highest global emitters of C02.
The report urged the public to make ‘low-carbon’ choices about their transportation, energy use, purchases and diets, including a 24 per cent red meat consumption cut by 2035.
But NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said consumers could continue to eat red meat and dairy as part of a ’climate-friendly’ diet if they considered the provenance of their food.
He said: "Greenhouse gas emissions from UK beef are half that of the world average and we are continually improving as we transition to a net zero agriculture.
"If you want to continue eating quality, nutritious red meat and dairy while also doing your bit for the planet, it can be as simple as buying British and checking where your red meat has been sourced when eating out."
Joe Stanley, livestock and arable farmer from Leicester, tweeted: “Much to agree with in the CCC’s report but again no recognition [was] given to the lower carbon footprint of UK livestock and the benefits of animal protein versus highly processed alternatives. Grazed livestock are a vital part of our net zero ambition.”
Chief executive of Dairy UK, Dr Judith Bryans, added: "We are strongly committed to tackling climate change and recognise the important work the CCC is doing to this end.
"However, we are once again extremely disappointed that the role of dairy in nutrition, livelihoods, biodiversity and many more areas has been ignored.
"Dairy simply cannot only be viewed through the lens of greenhouse gas emissions or land use.
“Dairy products provide vital nutrition to consumers, such rich nutrition in fact that no one other product naturally matches the range of vitamins and minerals found in dairy.
"Encouraging or enforcing a reduction in dairy consumption could leave many consumers struggling to replace the valuable package of nutrients they get from dairy and paying higher food bills in the process."