President Joe Biden announced his plan for the United States to reach a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030 at the Virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on Thursday, April 22.
After the announcement was made, headlines like this one from the Daily Mail: “How Biden's climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH,” several on-air segments on Fox News and Fox Business, and a number of social media posts claimed that Biden’s plan would slash red meat consumption in the U.S. by 90 percent.
Did the Biden Administration propose a plan to slash red meat consumption by 90 percent?
No, the Biden Administration has not proposed a reduction in red meat consumption at all, let alone 90 percent.
WHAT WE FOUND
In January 2020, researchers at the University of Michigan released a study on the “Implications of Future US Diet Scenarios on Greenhouse Gas Emissions.” It found that greenhouse gas emissions could be cut in half if red meat consumption is cut by 90 percent, along with a 50 percent drop in all other meat consumption.
While the White House did not comment directly on the claims, they did confirm that there are no restrictions on red meat consumption as part of Biden’s climate plans or emissions targets.
During a call with the media on Monday, April 26, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack answered the question more directly, saying, “There is no effort designed to limit people's intake of beef coming out of President Biden's White House or USDA. Sometimes in the political world, games get played and issues are injected into the conversation knowing full well that there's no factual basis."
Two of the researchers behind the University of Michigan study also responded to the “misinformation being propagated about our study” on Monday in an email to the VERIFY team.
In the email, Gregory A. Keoleian, the director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, and Research Specialist Martin Heller, cited two key points:
“To our knowledge, there is no connection between our study and Joe Biden's Climate plan. This appears to be an association made erroneously by the Daily Mail that has been picked up widely. Our study merely identifies opportunities for emissions reductions that are possible from changes in our diet. By no means does it suggest that these changes in diet would be required to meet climate goals.”
On Monday afternoon, Fox News anchor John Roberts issued a correction on “America Reports after the Daily Mail report was debunked:
“On Friday, we told you about a study from the University of Michigan to give some perspective on President Biden’s ambitious climate change goals. 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 the script incorrectly implied that it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”
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