FACT CHECK: Does Joe Biden’s Climate Plan Require Americans To Eat 90% Less Red Meat?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims President Joe Biden’s climate plan requires Americans to reduce their red meat consumption by 90 percent.

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Biden’s plans to combat climate change include requiring Americans to reduce their consumption of red meat by 90 percent. The University of Michigan study cited in the graphic is unrelated to Biden’s climate plan and predates his administration.

Fact Check:

During a recent virtual climate summit with 40 world leaders, Biden announced his goal to reduce the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 52 percent by 2030, according to the Associated Press.

Facebook users have since been sharing an on-air graphic from Fox News that alleges Biden’s plan to combat climate change would require people to cut 90 percent of red meat from their diets, to a maximum of four pounds per year and one hamburger per month. The graphic cites the Department of Agriculture at the University of Michigan.

However, Biden has not proposed a required 90 percent reduction in red meat consumption in any of the press releases, speeches or fact sheets available on the White House website. The climate plan Biden released as a presidential candidate does not include cutting people’s red meat consumption to a maximum of four pounds per year or one burger per month, either.

At a virtual briefing with journalists, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “There is no effort designed to limit people’s intake of beef coming out of President Biden’s White House or USDA,” Politico reported April 26.

The 90 percent figure in the Fox News graphic appears to come from a study published by the University of Michigan in January 2020, before Biden had even received the Democratic presidential nomination. That study, titled “Implications of Future US Diet Scenarios on Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” does not mention Biden or his climate plan at any point

The University of Michigan study examined the “effect on food system greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE) of a hypothetical reduction in the consumption of animal-based foods in the US diet and a replacement with plant-based foods.” It found that if Americans reduced their consumption of beef by 90 percent and animal-based foods by 50 percent, diet-related greenhouse gas emissions could potentially be cut by 51 percent between 2016 and 2030.

Diego Rose, a professor at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a co-author of the paper, told CNN that their goal was to “illuminate through research the potential impacts that various behavioral changes can make on greenhouse gas emissions.”

“It is up to individuals to then choose their own behaviors that can address the drastic environmental situation in which we find ourselves,” Rose told CNN. “And it is up to society, all of us collectively, to incentivize those behaviors.” (RELATED: Does Kamala Harris Want To ‘Eliminate’ Beef?)

The false claim appears to have stemmed from an April 22 Daily Mail article that speculated about Biden’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and talked about the University of Michigan study. While the article does not state Biden’s plan will mandate limiting red meat consumption, it does speculate Americans “may have to cut their red meat consumption by a whopping 90 percent and cut their consumption of other animal based foods in half,” citing the study. It acknowledged Biden has “yet to release any firm details on exactly how such a plan will affect the daily lives of ordinary Americans.”

Fox News anchor John Roberts issued an on-air clarification April 26: “That research from 2020 found that cutting back how much red meat people eat would have a drastic impact on harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The data was accurate, but a graphic and a script incorrectly implied that it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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