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"Cut meat in school lunch to help the climate"

27.08.2019 - 11:43
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 Mynd: RÚV
If Iceland hopes to become carbon neutral by 2040, all canteens in Reykjavík need to cut their carbon footprint, among other things by cutting how much meat they serve, according to city councillor for Vinstri grænir (the Left Greens) Líf Magneudóttir, who also sits on the city’s education and youth committee. She adds that farmers should not fear the discussion that has started this week over the city’s school canteens.

All reasonable people should want to aim for more environmentally friendly agriculture, Líf told RÚV radio this morning.  

The debate started following a request from the Icelandic vegan association to all municipalities, calling on them to stop serving animal products in school canteens, or to cut them significantly, in response to the climate crisis. The association claims it would be possible to start by offering two options at lunchtime, with the carbon footprint of each clearly shown, or to make school canteens completely vegan, or to cut back on animal products in small steps. 

Líf said on RÚV TV this weekend that the ruling majority in the City of Reykjavík unanimously supports the proposal to look into possibly cutting the provision of animal products in school canteens. Líf says she has personally long held the opinion that the provision of meat should be cut. 

“For me this is about that we live in a changing world and we need to change our habits, our food habits, and how we treat the environment and the earth, and for me it is a climate matter,” Líf said. 

Weekly grassroots climate protests calling on the authorities to take action show that change is necessary. 

“If we want to be carbon neutral by 2040 then we have to look at all branches of the City, including canteens, and we need to calculate their carbon footprints and reduce the carbon footprint of all meals. And the naturally simplest, basic, and apparently very unpopular action would be, for example, to completely remove meat from the city’s canteens.” 

The issue is complicated, however, as Icelanders are brought up in a meat-heavy society; partly because meat and fish are easier for farmers in Iceland to produce than fruit and vegetables. Líf says, however, that farmers should not fear the current conversation. 

“All reasonable people should want to be environmentally friendly and for us to consume environmentally-friendly products,” She says. 

“We are a major consumer society. We consume far too much and take far too many of the earth’s resources. We all need to start pulling back on this and I think it is healthy and good for everyone to approach this head-on and be strong: what can I do? What can the authorities do? How can we achieve carbon neutrality by 2040? And how can we stop polluting the earth?” 

According to United Nations figures, 15 percent of global human-induced carbon emissions come from meat and animal-derived food products like dairy, seafood, and eggs.

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