July 7, 2008 / 10:39 AM / 9 years ago

No need to give up meat to save planet: Tony Blair

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has distanced himself from the idea that he should become a vegetarian as a way of highlighting the dangers of deforestation in his role as a climate change campaigner.

<p>Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair makes a speech at a news conference for "Breaking the Climate Deadlock" in Tokyo June 27, 2008. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>

Blair, who is backing a plan for the world to halve greenhouse gases by 2050, said deforestation was responsible for producing four times as many as emissions as the airline industry.

“The destruction of tropical rainforests for conversion to farmland -- for meat and crops -- must be halted, and reversed,” Blair told readers of the Independent in a question and answer session.

”This is why I have called for G8 leaders to support efforts to reduce forest destruction and degradation,“ he said. ”Minimising emissions from agricultural sources will be an important part of efforts to limit climate change.

He was asked by one reader: “will you (therefore) go vegetarian and lead by example?”

Blair replied: “This does not mean the world has to give up meat.”

Since leaving office last year after 10 years as prime minister, Blair has taken on the role of envoy for the Quartet of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia promoting economic development for Palestinians.

He has also drawn criticism for accepting lucrative business, publishing and public speaking deals.

“I‘m also helping the governments of Sierra Leone and Rwanda,” added Blair, in another answer to a question from an Independent reader. “I like big challenges.”

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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