Twenty livestock companies are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than Germany, Britain or France, and are receiving billions of dollars in financial support to do so, according to a new report from environmental activists.
Livestock farming contributes significantly to carbon emissions, and animal agriculture accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Scientific reports have found that rich countries need large cuts in meat and dairy consumption to cope with the climate emergency.
Between 2015 and 2020, the world’s meat and dairy companies received more than $ 478 billion in support from 2,500 investment firms, banks and pension funds, most of them based in North America or Europe, according to the Meat atlas, which was compiled by Friends of the Earth and the European political foundation, Heinrich Böll Stiftung.
With that level of financial support, the report estimates that meat production could increase by another 40 million tons by 2029, to reach 366 million tons of meat per year.
Although the vast majority of growth is likely to occur in the global south, the largest producers will continue to be China, Brazil, the United States and members of the European Union. By 2029, these countries can still produce 60% of the world’s meat production.
Worldwide, the report says, three-quarters of all agricultural land is used to raise animals or the crops to feed them. “In Brazil alone, 175 million hectares are dedicated to cattle raising”, an area of land that is roughly equivalent to the “entire agricultural area of the European Union.”
The report also points to an ongoing consolidation in the meat and dairy sector, with larger companies buying from smaller ones and reducing competition. The effect runs the risk of squeezing more sustainable food production models.
“To keep up with this [level of animal protein production] Industrial animal husbandry is on the rise and continues to take sustainable models off the market, ”says the report.
The recent interest shown by animal protein companies in meat alternatives and substitutes was not yet a solution, activists said.
“This is all for profit and doesn’t really address the fundamental problems we see in today’s animal protein-centric food system that is having a devastating impact on climate, biodiversity, and actually harming people across the globe. world, “said Stanka Becheva, a food and agriculture activist with Friends of the Earth.
The conclusion, said Becheva, is that “we must begin to reduce the amount of edible animals on the planet and encourage different consumption patterns.”
More regulation of the meat industry is also needed, he said, “to make sure companies pay for the damage they have created throughout the supply chain and to minimize additional damage.”
On the investment side, Becheva said that private banks and investors, as well as development banks such as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, should stop financing intensive large-scale animal protein production projects. scale.
In response to the report, Paolo Patruno, Undersecretary General of the European Association of the Meat Processing Industry (CLITRAVI), said: “We do not believe that any food sector is more or less sustainable than another. But there are more or less sustainable ways to produce plant or animal food and we are committed to making animal protein production more sustainable.
“We also know that the average GHG [greenhouse gas] Livestock emissions in the EU are half the world average. The world average is around 14% and the EU average is 7%, ”he added.
In England and Wales, the National Farmers Union has set itself the goal of reaching net zero Greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture by 2040.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism