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Does the US feel eating meat is its exclusive privilege?

By Zhang Zhouxiang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-01-10 21:28

During the 2019 International Import Expo, held in Shanghai in November, I was very glad to taste vegetarian meat from US company Impossible Foods. Their vegetarian meat did not taste exactly the same as true meat, but quite good.

And it is good to hear executive Pat Brown calling China "an absolutely essential and extremely important market". Yet what he lists as support for that "important market" is rather depressing and ridiculous:

"Every time someone in China eats a piece of meat, a little puff of smoke goes up in the Amazon."


Maybe a look at data will tell who is causing the little puffs of smoke in the Amazon. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, average meat consumption per person in China in 2017 is 26.7 kilograms. In the same year, the data provided by statistica.com for the US is 98.4 kg, 3.6 times that of China.

And the data for European countries ranges between 70 to 90 kg. Even in the Republic of Korea, where people often jokingly complain they cannot afford meat, the meat consumption per year is 42.7 kg per person.

More importantly, of the 98.4 kg of meat consumed by an average US resident, 25.8 are beef, which can cause five times the greenhouse gas effects of pork or chicken according to research from US scholar Gidon Eshel. In comparison, each Chinese person only consumes about 1.9 kg of beef annually.

Which number is bigger, 25.8 times 5, or 1.9? So who is causing the "little puffs" in the Amazon, if there are any?

Furthermore, it was the puff-causing US that exited from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol in 2001, refused to shoulder its responsibilities of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in the same year and exited the Paris Agreement in 2017.

On the other side of the Pacific, China has been putting forth a massive effort toward cutting carbon emissions. For decades, China has adopted one policy after another to adjust its economic structure to be more environmentally friendly.

According to data from the Ministry of Environment and Ecology, China's carbon emission per unit of GDP had dropped by 4 percent in 2018 and 45.8 percent compared to 2005, equal to cutting carbon emissions by 5.26 billion tons. In other words, China has fulfilled its promise of lowering its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent ahead of the 2020 target.

In addition, China has been doing its part to make the world greener. On Sept 19, 2019, Alipay's Ant Forest program won the UN Champions of the Earth award for helping 500 million people adjust to low-carbon lifestyles, and planted 122 million trees.

And a NASA report released in February 2019, finds China's total green area had grown 17.8 percent from 2000 to 2017, with runner-up India showing 11.1 percent of growth. China is the champion in making the world greener.

Yet certain US companies and media outlets have been blaming China. They selectively filter out China's contributions to the world, and cling to their prejudices instead.

Behind their absurd, unsupported accusations is an "American privilege" mentality: The US is a privileged country in this world and its residents can eat meat, whatever the result. If there is environmental pressure, Chinese people should bear that even though their meat consumption lags far behind.

We Chinese have always contributed to the fight against climate change, and we are glad to contribute more. However, it is totally wrong and absurd to blame us for having caused it.

We hope certain US enterprises and media outlets will give up their bias, and join this common cause that ultimately benefits all.

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