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Agriculture Action Ignores Meat Reduction

News Section Icon Published 11/8/2021

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Yesterday (7th November), the UK Government announced that it has joined forces with 44 other governments to pledge urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming. However, the pledge - Policy Action Agenda for Transition to Sustainable Food and Agriculture - fails to mention the need to reduce meat consumption at all.

Deeply Disappointing

We welcome the fact that governments are finally taking some action to address the issue of agriculture and its impact on climate after weeks of pressure from Compassion and other NGOs. However, we are deeply disappointed that the vital issue of meat reduction has been completely ignored and that meat has not been mentioned at all in this 2,300 word document on sustainable food and agriculture.

In response to the pledge, we have issued a statement urging world leaders to tackle the issue of the impact of food and animal agriculture on climate change.

This news comes just three days after the launch of our latest report, “Breaking the Taboo: Why Diets Must Change to Tackle Climate Emergency which outlines the clear scientific case that without a dramatic reduction in meat and dairy consumption, we will be unable to meet the Paris Agreement climate targets.

A Challenge We Must Address Head-On

Peter Stevenson, our Chief Policy Advisor and author of the report, says:

“After weeks of pressure on the UK and other governments, it is a relief to see that a statement is being released by the UK with 44 other governments recognising that a quarter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) come from agriculture, forestry and other land use.

“However, the announcement completely ignores that the massive share of these GHGs - more than half – are from animal agriculture, and instead offers vague commitments to possible technical approaches such as "climate resistant crops”. It should not be possible to produce 2300 words on sustainable food and agriculture without once mentioning meat – yet this agreement manages to do just that.

"The hard fact is that the world’s livestock alone produce more greenhouse gases than the direct emissions of the world’s planes, trains and cars combined - not just directly but from the forest clearances to grow food for developed nations' factory farms.

“It is a challenge we need to address head-on: in a world producing 80 billion land animals for food a year, most of them factory farmed, resetting the balance will require switching to welfare-positive, nature-friendly production with fewer animals.

“It makes absolutely no sense to commit to preserving forests on one hand and perpetuating the factory farming model that drives deforestation on the other. Governments can no longer afford to duck taking on the powerful vested interests that drive expanding factory farms and associated overconsumption of meat and dairy. We need action to reduce meat and dairy consumption, and we need it now, before it’s too late.”

Read “Breaking the Taboo: Why Diets Must Change to Tackle Climate Emergency” here.

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