As COP26 prepares to unveil final commitments focused on reducing emissions from energy, transport and other sectors, activists from Humane Society International, one of the world's largest animal welfare NGOs world, argue that the total omission of targets to reduce animal husbandry, production and consumption of meat and dairy products represents a failure as absurd as it is surprising given that the sector is the second largest emitter world of human-made greenhouse gases.
Stefanie McNerney, Head of Plant Based Solutions at Humane Society International, said: “While there were many conversations at COP26 side events and press conferences on the urgency of food system reform global campaign to reduce the production and consumption of meat and dairy products, It was appalling that this vital climate change mitigation strategy was missing from the COP26 leaders' negotiations. Current commitments on methane, coal, forestry and transport always seem poised to steer us away from the goal of limiting the global temperature rise, so it is ludicrous to ignore the opportunity to limit any of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, animal agriculture. We need policies and targets that orient agriculture towards plant-based food production, and the obvious lack of ambition to do so is deeply troubling. We have reached a stage in the climate crisis where so-called technical solutions such as feed additives are far from sufficient to combat emissions from this sector. The climate clock is ticking and it is high time to move beyond the ecological masquerade stage with low impact measures offered by "Big Ag" (Big Agriculture) that only perpetuate the growth of an unsustainable industry. The science is clear that this is not an option. Will governments follow the science and plan for a just transition to a more climate-resilient, plant-centered food system, or will we wait for the cows to come home so they stop ignoring the cow that is in the room? "
- Although world leaders at COP26 recognized that food production not only contributes to climate change, but also holds one of the keys to mitigating it, dialogues around this sector have lacked ambition, most conversations officials focusing on low impact strategies such as modification of feeds, control of nitrous oxide in fertilizers and 'rewilding' , while completely omitting discussion of high impact actions such as reduction of livestock and change in diet.
- HSI welcomes the commitments made to reduce methane and end deforestation. However, animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to methane emissions and deforestation, and these issues cannot be addressed without reducing the global number of livestock heads and shifting to more focused food production and consumption. on plants.
- To divert the discussion towards short-sighted mitigation tactics while deliberately ignoring and even dismissing the topic of livestock reduction and diet change is nothing short of greenwashing by the livestock industry. . Governments that are serious about climate change must tackle emissions from animal agriculture, which means reducing the number of animals raised for food and transforming our food system into a more sustainable, resilient and focused system. on plants, which is fair to all.
- As for missing the point, in the draft AMC decision of the President of COP26, the words “animal agriculture” and “agriculture” , not to mention “reduction of livestock” , do not appear. not even once.
- The other cow in the room was the cow served on the COP plates. The provision of meat on the menu of a climate conference was disappointing. The CO² equivalent labeling on all foods served at the conference clearly demonstrated the very large carbon footprint of beef dishes compared to plant-based options. The juxtaposition of emissions between a beef burger weighing 3.3 kg of CO² emissions versus a plant-based burger with only 0.2 kg of CO² emissions has literally served an obvious mitigation strategy on a plate - a flagrant omission from the COP26 negotiations.
HSI's #TheCowInTheRoom campaign called on COP26 to recognize and act on the climate-damaging impacts of intensive animal agriculture. The campaign has the backing of leading plant- based food companies and investors including Beyond Investing, Mosa Meat, Eat Just, Wicked Kitchen and Linda McCartney Foods, as well as celebrities such as Moby, Billie Eilish, Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Cumming, Alicia Silverstone, Mary McCartney, Leona Lewis, Martin Freeman, Lily Cole and Stephen Fry. Earlier this week, activists handed over a petition with more than 70,000 signatures to campaign partners ProVeg International and Four Paws.