BBC Onepolitics show


Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Macca: Eat less meat to cut Co2

Sean Stowell
Producer, Politics Show for Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North Midlands

Sir Paul McCartney

Sir Paul claims eating less meat is a healthier option for the planet.

Sir Paul McCartney has been promoting his "Meat-Free Monday" campaign on the international stage as farmers and politicians clash over the former Beatle's claims.

On the eve of the Copenhagen world summit on climate change, Sir Paul took his meat-free message to the European Parliament after being invited there by Yorkshire MEP Edward McMillan Scott.

Sir Paul's campaign, backed by Mr McMillan Scott, claims one day's less meat-eating a week could have a major impact on efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

Lentil Pushers

But a Yorkshire National Farmers' union spokesman dismissed Sir Paul's claims as a publicity stunt, while Yorkshire UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom said anyone who believed the claims by the meat industry's significant role in global warming was giving in to Europe's "lentil pushers".

After being welcomed to the European Parliament chamber by Mr McMillan Scott, who revealed to Parliament his cholesterol levels had dropped significantly after he gave up meat, his guest Sir Paul said:

Sir Paul at EU Parliament
Sir Paul is no stranger to large audiences.

"This isn't just me, a vegetarian, banging on. It was a United Nations report... that got me interested.

"Since then there been many more studies and I personally think there's an urgent need to do something.

"The livestock industry produces more greenhouse gases than all forms of transport - cars, plane, trucking - put together.

"We thought cars were the villain of the piece but it appears livestock produces more, not to mention deforestation for grazing, or for growing animal feed - one third of cereal crops are grown for animals."

Meatless Mondays

Sir Paul said gases released today from cows "belching" methane would be "degrading" the climate for decades to come:

"People are confused about what they can do - they can try one meat-free day a week. It's kind of interesting once you get into it."

Racks of beef
Meat producers question Sir Paul's claims.

Sir Paul read out a statement from US climate change guru Al Gore, which said:

"Meatless Mondays is a responsible and welcome component to a strategy for reducing global pollution."

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a fellow speaker at the "Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat Less Heat" conference, backed Sir Paul, insisting:

"Cutting meat down to five or six days a week will certainly make a difference."

Hard Day's Night

Sir Paul had flown to Brussels from Hamburg where he performed last night, and this afternoon flew to Berlin, for tonight's appearance.

As he left the Parliament, his host, Conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott, revealed that Sir Paul had insisted on being ferried to and from Brussels Airport today in a hybrid car.

"We're overjoyed that Sir Paul McCartney has made time to come the European Parliament to campaign on climate change as we approach the Copenhagen Summit," said Glenis Willmott, Leader of the British Labour MEPs.

She added that Yorkshire Labour MEP Linda McAvan had played a pivotal role in getting the European Parliament to take a lead and set standards for the rest of the world to follow.

Publicity Stunt

However, Godfrey Bloom, demonstrating at a restaurant outside the Parliament, said:

"We want to demonstrate to these lentil pushers that we are not interested in knitting our own muesli.

"We don't want their solar powered bean burgers. We want sausages, steaks, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, pork, duck.."

And Paul Temple, of the NFU, said: "This is a McCartney publicity stunt."

See the full report on the Politics Show for Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and the North Midlands this Sunday, 6th December, at 12 noon on BBC1.

Balancing the global need for meat
24 Mar 09 |  Science & Environment
Shun meat, says UN climate chief
07 Sep 08 |  Science & Environment
Farming should return to its roots
29 Jan 08 |  Science & Environment

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific