All of the youths around are joining their hands with the aim of achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. I believe Sustainable Development Goals are something that should align with multiple factors and the lifestyle of people around the globe. However, if we are not aware of causes within us that are building threats against the goals we are working on, then we are already left far behind in achieving them by 2030.
I delivered a session on SDG 13 related issues on September 18, 2018, at Kathmandu University Seminar Hall. Based on my study on some journal articles published in a different website and also in the book of Bert Metz ‘Controlling Climate Change’ (2010) which bases on SDG 13: Climate Action, it has been observed that there is a massive contribution of a pattern of Food Consumption in Carbon Emission. Unlike the Role of Industries, transportation or different other sectors that releases carbon to the atmosphere, there is a significant role of Agriculture and Forestry in releasing carbon to the atmosphere because these two sectors are considered to be a Huge reservoir for Carbon Stocks. However, because of the change in the food consumption pattern of human beings, agriculture and forestry are harshly dominated.
With the increase in population growth, and more often, due to increase in the level of income of the people, most people are driven towards shifting their food consumption pattern which means that people who used to earn an average amount of money could consume mostly vegetarian diet including omnivorous diet quite often. However, if their income level has increased, then most of the time they prefer to consume a more omnivorous diet which might question the consumption of a vegetarian diet as well. Now the question might be what is the relationship between Consumption pattern and environment.
Most of the time, people claim industrialization as a fundamental cause for deforestation which is one of the primary sources of enormous carbon emission to the atmosphere. But the fact is our consumption pattern has also contributed to deforestation, because of the preference of food. If we are to consume more omnivorous diet, then it doesn’t only increase the demand for the meat, but also it increases the need for agriculture land. Because most of the reports based on food consumption has estimated that it requires up to 7 k of grains to produce 1 kg of meat. (Metz, 2010). And it is precisely that, with the increasing demand of meat, there is demand for agriculture production for livestock feeding which might simultaneously increase the price of agricultural products and it doesn’t only lead to famines for the poor but also have haphazard severe on the environment. Because of the need for agricultural land for grains production, most of the forested areas are in danger of deforestation. And we all know how terrible is the consequence of deforestation and its impact on the environment.
With the increase in the agricultural land but followed by degraded cropland and grassland resulted by bad farming practices, it can result in the release of carbon to the atmosphere because of soil erosion and loss of carbon stocks. This might be the bitter truth that how careless we are concerning the environment yet.
Besides the indirect effect on the atmosphere, let’s take an example of the direct impact of the type of food consumption to the atmosphere. Based on the data of the United States on emissions from Food Consumption, it is stated that the average carbon emission per year from a person consuming omnivorous diet is 3.8 ton. Average carbon emission from person consuming mostly vegetarian diet is 3.0 ton, average carbon emission from person consuming vegetarian diet is 2.7 ton whereas average carbon emission per year from a person consuming Vegan diet is 2.0 ton.
We are yet to discover many essential facts that we are ignoring regarding achieving the global goals by 2030. We all must be able to address these issues if we think, we are capable of attaining the SDGs by the given time. There might be numerous examples of different types of threats which are within us disabling our potential to promote sustainable development.
The question is how farsighted we are to accept the truth and challenge to mitigate the problem of climate change from individual, local, national and international level.
Ajit Bhatta is a SDG Coordinator based at Kathmandu University, Nepal. He is also a regional officer at Reinstalling Hope. He is currently doing Masters in Development Studies at Kathmandu University, and a Social Work Graduate from Tribhuvan University. He previously volunteered at United Nations Youth and Students Associations of Nepal, and was a Country Delegate at International Religious Youth Service Project and International Youth Summit.