Researchers argue that if the Pope reinstated meatless Fridays across the global Church, it could mitigate millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually. Source: The Tablet.
One in four Catholics in England and Wales changed their eating habits after the Catholic bishops asked them to return to foregoing meat on Fridays, saving more than 55,000 tonnes of carbon a year, according to a new study led by the University of Cambridge.
Researchers say that, in terms of CO2 emissions, this is equivalent to 82,000 fewer people taking a return trip from London to New York over the course of a year.
Lead author Shaun Larcom and colleagues from Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy combined new survey data with that from diet and social studies to quantify the effects of a statement issued by the Church in England and Wales re-establishing meat-free Fridays as a collective act of penance from September 2011 onwards after a 26-year hiatus.
Commissioned survey results suggest that 28 per cent of Catholics in England and Wales adjusted their Friday diet following this announcement. Of this segment, 41 per cent stated that they stopped eating meat on Friday, and 55 per cent said they tried to eat less meat on that day.
The researchers now argue that if the Pope reinstated meatless Fridays across the global Church, it could mitigate millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.
For example, they say that if Catholic bishops in the United States alone issued an “obligation” to resist meat on the last day of the working week, environmental benefits could be as much as 20 times larger than in the UK.
“If the Pope was to reinstate the obligation for meatless Fridays to all Catholics globally, it could be a major source of low-cost emissions reductions. Even if only a minority of Catholics choose to comply, as we find in our case study,” Professor Larcom said.
Catholics saved carbon by cutting out meat on Fridays, study shows (by Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet)