Berlin (dpa) – Germans love to stand at the grill and often because of the pandemic. In a study by market research consultancy Mafowerk, 28 percent of those surveyed stated that the coronavirus had caused their network to heat up more than before.
And at the bottom, gas increasingly provides the necessary heat. Coal remains number one – although it is said to be more harmful to nature. Is that correct? A review of the facts.
The claim: Gas barbecue is more climate-friendly than charcoal and emits less harmful carbon dioxide (CO2).
Classification: This is true, but the choice of food to grill is more important for the balance of the climate.
Facts: For a barbecue experience, Germans still rely primarily on charcoal heat – even if the trend is in decline. In 2011, 74 percent of those surveyed by Opinion Research Institute “Chance” still use this method, and ten years later the figure is only 58 percent. This is the result of a current roasting study by the poultry company Wiesenhof. So gas grills are becoming more and more popular: in 2011 it was still one in ten people, and now 29 percent of those surveyed grilled this way.
While the charcoal grill experience is the focus of many barbecue experts, from the procedures of lighting to smelling and even tasting the embers, a gas grill has other advantages: Since there is no fireplace to dispose of, it reduces mess. The flowing gas, which ignites, heats up faster. In addition, it is more climate friendly compared to a charcoal grill.
Eric Johnson reached this conclusion in a study. In 2009, the head of the Swiss environmental consulting firm Atlantic Consulting compared the carbon dioxide balance between two barbecue systems – coal and liquid gas. Compare both systems by running them 150 times for an hour to theoretically cook two kilograms of food.
Conclusion: When using a charcoal grill, 6.7 kg of carbon dioxide is released. A modern car, which consumes only six liters of gasoline, has a range of nearly 50 kilometers. According to the study, only 2.3 kg of carbon dioxide are released when using a gas stove. Here the car will travel only about 16 kilometers. Overall, the result means that CO2 emissions when grilling with charcoal are three times more than when grilled with gas.
One reason for the difference is fuel production, which the study indicated for coal at around 3 kilograms of CO2 per use. With a gas grill, on the other hand, it’s only 0.12 kg of CO2.
But what is a grill is more important for the environment than the type of grill (charcoal, gas or electric). The Federal Environment Agency cites a life cycle assessment study conducted by TÜV Rheinland from 2011, according to which the vast majority of climate-related emissions occur from food on the grill.
Animal products pollute the environment throughout the life cycle much more than corn, for example. According to TÜV Rheinland, the biggest climate culprits on the grill are beef with emissions of around 2.9kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per 200g of grilled meats and cheese with around 1.9kg of CO2eq per 200g. The unit of measure is used to standardize the effect of climate, one kilogram of carbon dioxide equivalent corresponds to the effect of one kilogram of carbon dioxide. Followed by ham and sausage. Best for the climate: Grilled corn had 50 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent, which was the only plant food in the study. The type of grill hardly played a role in the results.
And what do the Germans put on the grill? According to the Wiesenhof grill study, pork remains the most popular despite the decline (2021: 63 percent, 2009: 69 percent), followed by poultry (2021: 58, 2009: 54). Vegetables grow particularly vigorously (2021: 50, 2009: 29). It was ahead of cattle in 2021, which also increased (2021:49, 2009:33). Grilled cheese reached 37 percent in 2021, potatoes to 26, fish to 24, and lamb to 16. Vegetarian and vegan meat alternatives together made up 13 percent.
Behind Wiesenhof is the parent company PHW, which is considered the largest German poultry farming and processing company. For several years, Wiesenhof has increasingly relied on meat substitutes.
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