Entertainment industry icons and climate activists Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Cameron and Li Bingbing star in a groundbreaking series of public service announcements to inspire individual climate action against the backdrop of uncertainty in the environmental movement wrought by the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
The president-elect has previously claimed that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, leaving an opening for China to establish itself as the global leader in sustainability and the booming renewables industry. With low levels of public awareness on the climate impact of diet, the PSAs aim to empower Chinese consumers to make everyday choices that can help curb climate change.
The PSAs, produced by WildAid's China-based 5 To Do Today climate program and expected to reach tens of millions of people across China, come at a tenuous time for the global movement to mitigate climate change as the U.S.’s own climate ambitions are called into question. Chinese officials recently warned Trump that he would be defying the wishes of the entire planet if he were to follow through on his campaign promise to back out of the Paris climate agreement.
“With the recent election results, it will likely be up to China to ensure progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said WildAid Executive Director Peter Knights. “The Chinese government has every incentive to continue its impressive transition to a greener economy and we support that effort by encouraging climate-friendly behavior at the individual level.”
The PSAs promote eating less meat as an essential part of climate change mitigation. Animal agriculture accounts for an estimated 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and emissions from this fast-growing sector are largely unregulated. Due to its population and rapid economic growth, China is essential to any efforts to curb GHG emissions: the nation consumes 28% of all the world’s meat, about half of the world’s pork and is projected to add the equivalent of the total United States consumption to global demand for meat between 2010 and 2030.
“With climate deniers now running the show, it’s more important than ever for people of conscience to fight climate change by doing everything we can as individuals,” said director James Cameron. “One of the most powerful things we can do is to stop eating meat, dairy and other animal foods. Animal agriculture produces more greenhouse warming than transportation — more than all cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined. We don’t have to bemoan the inaction of a denier government — we can solve this ourselves.”
According to Chatham House and the Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences, the current level of meat consumption is not sustainable and has a tremendous impact on societal health and the environment. By 2050, global consumption of meat and dairy products are expected to rise 76 percent and 65 percent respectively. Several studies confirm that current agricultural practices are a hugely inefficient use of land and water, driving deforestation, biodiversity loss and many other environmental crises.
A survey shows that the Chinese public may be receptive to some dietary shifts. Eighty-eight percent of respondents were aware that meat consumption was unhealthy, while 40 percent were aware of the associated GHG emissions. Overall, 83 percent of respondents were willing to eat vegetarian at least one day each week for their health and the planet, with 62 percent willing to eat vegetarian two or more days each week.
“As much as we in California and the United States have been leaders and have inspired China to go in the right direction with environmental issues, they are now inspiring us,” former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said an interview with 5 To Do Today released in June.
The PSAs will appear in Mandarin on 5 To Do Today media partner outlets in China including on Beijing TV, Shenzhen TV, and other Chinese TV networks, and promoted online by China’s most popular video sites including Iqiyi and LeTV. The PSAs support the adoption of a healthy diet in line with the Chinese Nutrition Society’s Recommended Dietary Guidelines, which suggest limiting annual meat consumption to 27.4 kg per person, compared to current average of 63 kg in China.