On July 23, 2020, the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, and Health announced the publication of a report investigating the current food consumption patterns and diets within G20 countries and presenting opportunities to shift these to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, more equitably distribute the global carbon budget, and to gain health and economic benefits. The report finds that “dietary choices in G20 countries are destroying the planet” by setting an unsustainable model for global food consumption. Instead, food-related per-capita GHG emissions need to be halved by 2050 to ensure the growing global population can be fed by the earth’s limited resources. The authors urge G20 countries to set national dietary guidelines that could help realign food production and consumption with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. Given the diversity of diets and culinary traditions across G20 countries, different approaches and magnitudes of change to national diets will be needed.
The investigation concluded that “achieving healthy diets from sustainable food systems for 10 billion people by 2050 is possible but only with a significant reduction of animal source foods in some countries (mainly G20 countries) and universal increase in healthy plant-based foods in our diets.” Red meat is emphasized as having by far the highest adverse environmental and human health impacts. Current consumption patterns by food type are also presented per G20 country, and existing national dietary guidelines (or the lack thereof) are reviewed.
“This is one of the first reports to quantify and compare national dietary guidelines and whether they are ambitious enough to achieve the Paris Agreement,” the EAT commission writes. “We know a lot about this issue from a global perspective and over the past year several reports have outlined how the global food system needs to transform. This report, however, begins to explore this issue at the country level, with a specific focus on the need for the G20 to lead.”
EAT (July 23, 2020). “Diets for a Better Future.”
EAT (July 23, 2020). “Diets for a Better Future: Rebooting and Reimagining Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems in the G20.” (pdf)