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Biden climate plans don’t include red meat restrictions

April 26, 2021 GMT

CLAIM: President Joe Biden’s plan to combat climate change will require Americans to limit their meat consumption by 90%, to just 4 pounds of red meat annually or one hamburger per month.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Biden has not announced any such requirement. News reports and social media posts are falsely linking Biden’s plans on climate to a University of Michigan study that predates Biden’s presidency. The study does not address any government plans to limit red meat consumption.

THE FACTS: Biden isn’t coming for your Fourth of July barbecue, despite a flurry of posts suggesting as much on social media.

Over the weekend, Republican politicians and social media users baselessly claimed that Biden’s climate plans include cutting American red meat consumption by 90%, limiting each individual to 4 pounds of red meat a year and requiring Americans to eat no more than one hamburger per month.

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called the president the “Hamburglar,” while Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert warned Biden to “stay out of my kitchen.” Donald Trump. Jr. tweeted that the policy was “gonna be a hard NO from me,” and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote that it was “not gonna happen in Texas!”

However, Biden’s climate plans have never included those metrics, nor has the president announced any policy restricting meat in American diets. In response to the false claims, White House Rapid Response Director Mike Gwin tweeted a fact-checker’s debunk of the claims, along with a picture of Biden grilling steaks at an Iowa steak fry in 2019. The White House declined to provide additional comment Monday.

Though misinformation has circulated for years about Democrats’ intentions to cut beef from American diets, the recent falsehoods began Thursday, when Biden opened a virtual climate summit by announcing his goal to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030. Biden briefly hinted at some initiatives to help reach that ambitious goal, such as ramping up the use of electric vehicles and helping farmers deploy “cutting edge tools” to make U.S. soil “the next frontier in carbon innovation.” He did not mention red meat.

The same day, the British tabloid The Daily Mail published a speculative story that suggested “Biden’s climate plan could limit you to eat just one burger a MONTH.” As evidence, the outlet cited a January 2020 University of Michigan study unrelated to Biden that looked at various U.S. diet scenarios and their environmental impact.

Nevertheless, Fox News falsely linked the study to Biden’s climate policies, stating in on-air discussions that achieving Biden’s climate goals would require Americans to eat just “one burger per month.” A Fox News graphic titled “Up In Your Grill” suggested that cutting red meat by 90%, eating a maximum of 4 pounds per year, and eating just one burger per month were among “Biden’s climate requirements.”

Fox News anchor John Roberts clarified the network’s reporting on Monday, saying the data from the University of Michigan study was accurate, “but a graphic and the script incorrectly implied it was part of Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change. That is not the case.”

The University of Michigan study did not mention Biden, nor did it reference any forthcoming government policies restricting meat consumption. Instead, it explored various hypothetical reductions in animal-based foods in the U.S. diet and concluded that they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Martin Heller, one of the authors of the University of Michigan study, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that there was no connection between the research and Biden’s climate plan.

While the study examined the potential emission reductions in the context of former climate targets under President Barack Obama, “by no means does it suggest that these changes in diet would be required to meet climate goals,” Heller said.

Biden has discussed several initiatives to help reach his climate goals, including increasing the use of wind and solar power and slashing emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

The Daily Mail did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536