On Saturday (12th December), world leaders convened for a virtual Climate Ambition Summit to discuss commitments to tackle climate change. The event marked the five-year anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement treaty, and while some strides have been made in addressing the climate emergency, one major piece of the puzzle is missing: animal agriculture.
Paris Agreement targets out of reach
Disappointingly, although many speakers set out plans to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and invest in wind and solar energy, no one addressed the massive impact of livestock farming.
“The food system generates around 26% of global GHG emissions, with 75% of agriculture’s emissions produced by farm animals,” says Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor. “Many studies show that we cannot hope to meet the Paris targets without a major reduction in global meat and dairy consumption.”
Letting our planet fry
Despite the terrifying truth that one in every seven of the world’s GHG emissions come from farm animals, leaders like the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Xi Jinping of China failed to recognise the importance of our global food system in the battle against climate change.
“World leaders cannot keep ignoring livestock’s huge contribution to rising global temperatures,” Peter continues. “Are we really going to let the planet fry to satisfy our love for chicken nuggets and pork chops?
“We need fast, decisive action to reduce meat and dairy consumption including taxes on factory farmed meat with all the revenue raised being used to lower the price of healthy, low-emission foods such as fruit, vegetables and whole-grain cereals.”
CCC report shows the way
World leaders failed to mention animal agriculture even though, just three days prior, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the UK’s independent adviser on tackling climate change, presented a report that lays out the steps necessary for the UK to achieve a decarbonised nation, and key among those steps is diet change.
The CCC’s report reads: “Government should implement low-cost, low-regret actions to encourage a shift away from meat and dairy (e.g. the public sector taking a lead in providing plant-based options with all meals)”, making it very clear that addressing animal agriculture should be a priority. It is even more disappointing, then, that the Prime Minister neglected to mention the enormous impact of the food industry on emissions.
Urgent attention required
Until the huge effect of animal agriculture is even acknowledged, we cannot hope to meet the Paris Agreements target of keeping to the 2°C - let alone the 1.5°C - warming limit.
We urge word leaders to ensure the global food system receives the high-level attention required at COP26 next November and recognise the need to reduce global meat, fish and dairy consumption.
Help us lobby the Government to tackle industrial animal agriculture in order to combat climate change: donate today.