Lord Stern, who authored the UK report “The Economics of Climate Change” in 2006 and has long been a climate change stalwart in that country, is upset about the coverage his latest remarks have received.
The Times is running a story under the headline “Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet” . Stern was interviewed by the Times and said some things about meat that those pesky reporters decided was the best quote going, and slapped on their front page. “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases,” he says. In future people will treat eating meat differently, more like smoking or drinking, the article continues. And of course, the point has been picked up in the Brit press (Evening Standard, Spectator, Telegraph).
Farmers are cross. Jonathan Scurlock, stepped up from the National Farmers Union. “Farmers in this country are interested in evidence-based policymaking. We don’t have a methane-free cow or pig available to us,” he says in the same piece.
It seems that Stern was trying to make the point that there is poor understanding of the real consequences of not changing behaviour to try and mitigate climate change. And he might have a point. Stern this morning issued a press release saying that his remarks about meat were given “undue prominence”.
“The debate about climate change should not be dumbed down to a single slogan, such as ‘give up meat to save the planet’. Climate change has broad and profound implications for us and we need a sensible public discussion about the choices and decisions we face,” the statement continues. Stern has arranged a symposium in parliament this afternoon for MPs and members of the House of Lords to “discuss these issues and to encourage them to engage the public about them.”
It does seem, from reading the rest of the interview with Stern later in the paper, that he said a whole lot more than a few comments about meat. Such as calling for president Obama to attend the Copenhagen climate summit in December. But perhaps Stern was naive to think that any threat to the British Sunday roast would be allowed to pass without a furore.