Climate impact labels reduce negative planet impact food consumption
Differing views are directed at this labeling technique since intensively produced chicken has been proven to be environment-unfriendly alongside farmed fish.
A study published in the journal Jama Network Open has found that climate impact labels on foods like red meat prove an effective way to keep consumers from purchasing foods that negatively impact the environment.
Approximately 85% of agricultural land in England is tended to grazing pasture for livestock or to grow food for livestock. UK businessman Henry Dimbleby stated his belief that over the next 10 years, a 30% meat reduction is needed for sustainable land use in the UK, but Greenpeace calls for a 70% reduction.
One word changes it all
The study was conducted in the US, whereby participants were given a fast food menu and were told to select one item for dinner. Participants were randomised to view menus with one of three labels: a quick response code label on all items (control group); a green low-climate impact label on chicken, fish or vegetarian items (positive framing); or a red high-climate impact label on red meat items (negative framing).
The low-climate impact condition menu stated, “This item is environmentally sustainable. It has low greenhouse gas emissions and a low contribution to climate change," while the high-climate impact condition menu said, “This item is not environmentally sustainable. It has high greenhouse gas emissions and a high contribution to climate change.”
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23.5% of participants chose a sustainable menu item when menus displayed high-climate impact labels and 9.9% of participants selected a sustainable menu item when menus displayed low-climate impact labels.
According to a mean perceived healthfulness score, those who selected a sustainable item rated their meal as healthier as opposed to those who selected an unsustainable item.
Different terms, same meaning
Differing views are directed at this labelling technique since intensively produced chicken has been proven to be environment-unfriendly alongside farmed fish. Back in April, a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called on world leaders, namely those in developed countries, to advocate for sustainable, healthy, low-emissions diets.
The study authors which hail from Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities commented, “Animal-based food production, primarily driven by beef production, is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is an important modifiable contributor to climate change."
The authors added, “In the United States, meat consumption, red meat consumption in particular, consistently exceeds recommended levels based on national dietary guidelines. Shifting current dietary patterns toward more sustainable diets with lower amounts of red meat consumed could reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by up to 55%.”
After trials, they concluded that people could be influenced by informing them that a certain food carried negative environmental impacts as opposed to telling them that the food in question was a sustainable choice.
The authors said, “We found that labelling red meat items with negatively framed, red high–climate impact labels was more effective at increasing sustainable selections than labelling non–red meat items with positively framed, green low–climate impact labels.”