Friday, December 3

The commissioner for climate change of the Andalusian Board: “We will have to make an effort to limit the consumption of meat” | Climate and Environment


Juan Manuel Muñoz, commissioner for climate change and energy model of the Andalusian Board (PP and Ciudadanos), is clear that society must reduce the consumption of meat to stop global warming: “We will have to make an effort to limit the consumption of meat (…) We all have to convince ourselves that the transition requires sacrifices, especially those who like meat ”. His statements collide with the thesis of the Popular Party, which last July requested the disapproval of the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, for requesting the same change of diet that Muñoz defends.

Garzón demanded that the Spaniards lower their meat intake [más de un kilo por persona a la semana] for its great environmental impact, as recommended by scientists, and the PP charged the minister for “despising” the livestock sector and registered a non-law proposal for Congress to debate its disapproval. Now the Andalusian commissioner is the first high-ranking official of an autonomous government of the PP, in the most populated region that he governs, which supports the recommendation that the Government set out in its plan for 2050.

Livestock is responsible for 9% of greenhouse gas emissions in Spain, with 24 million tons, according to official figures. The UN panel of experts on climate change, as well as the World Health Organization and a multitude of scientists call for reducing meat intake to stop global warming. However, for the popular, the climatic emergency does not concern livestock. The Andalusian commissioner disagrees in this interview.

A year ago Muñoz (Málaga, 1968) acceded to the position after spending three decades as a manager of the construction company Sando. Despite lacking previous experience in environmental issues, the Andalusian president, Juan Manuel Moreno, appointed him to lead the fight against climate change. Andalusia is one of the regions most exposed to possible catastrophic consequences due to its extensive coastline and geographical position, but Muñoz lacks a budget.

P. Are you in favor of reducing the number of head of cattle and inviting the population to reduce meat consumption?

R. I don’t like to forbid anything. This is a measure of education, a didactic work, society must demand. If I am concerned about the environment, it does not make sense to consume without any environmental criteria. We have to take that step forward. In 5 or 10 years, the consumption of meat will vary downward, but also the consumption of more polluting products, the environmental traceability of the products will be seen and we will demand that the industry produce healthier and more environmentally friendly products. But I am not in favor of prohibiting by system. The meat sector has been more affected by certain public statements [en referencia a Garzón], but there are also other sectors that pollute the same as meat and instead have not been affected.

P. I was asking if you advocate cutting down on meat.

R. It is not that I advocate, it is that consuming meat, because scientists say so, affects. We all have to convince ourselves that the transition requires sacrifices, especially those who like meat. I am not anyone to recommend, but we will have to make an effort to limit the consumption of meat. As for not consuming water and having cleaner cars.

P. Was it populist politics to criticize that recommendation?

R. I do not enter that sphere of political discussion. The environment must not support these issues. It will always be better for the environment to consume less water, consume less meat and have less polluting cars, that is indisputable.

P. As a public official, he will have an opinion on the controversy.

R. If the criticisms refer strictly to the fact of consuming meat, they are not justified. But it also affects the way of saying things a lot.

Juan Manuel Muñoz, commissioner for climate change and energy model, in the gardens of San Telmo, headquarters of the Andalusian Board.
Juan Manuel Muñoz, commissioner for climate change and energy model, in the gardens of San Telmo, headquarters of the Andalusian Board. PACO PUENTES (THE COUNTRY)

P. A magazine article Science Five years ago I drew the whole of southern Spain as a desert with a high level of emissions. Even with a stable emission reduction scenario, large areas of the Guadalquivir basin can be desertified. Are you terrified?

R. Sure it scares me, but we are very given to catching catastrophic news. I hope that the situation is not as serious as it is, but we have to get moving so that the worst forecasts do not come true. Neutrality in emissions is no longer enough, developed countries will have to bet on reducing emissions.

P. Various groups have denounced the abandonment of the Andalusian Forest Plan, in a state of hibernation, and an Infoca command even recognized in the Sierra Bermeja fire that the mountain was not being cared for. The spending of the Board in extinction exceeds that of prevention. Isn’t it contradictory?

R. We want the forest to take care of itself, to have the means to turn it off and in the end the resources are what they are. Maintaining the forest is 3,000 euros per hectare. And in Andalusia we have nine million hectares, that is thousands and billions of euros, it is impossible. Where does the solution go? To recover rural life, give it economic life so that the field is not abandoned.

P. In January 2020, the Andalusian president announced that he would plant one million trees in two years. After the deadline, why do you think it has been breached?

R. I do not know. We are committed to the numbers.

P. But they are the figures that the Board gives.

R. Yes, but that’s it, the constant concern of “I planted a thousand trees and the other 1,500.” This is not the debate. A serious and objective policy requires global support. Planting trees is not a solution, the problem is much more complex.

P. What do you think of the rejection of some rural areas of Andalusia to the installation of photovoltaic macroparks?

R. If all the projects were executed, it would occupy 0.67% of the total Andalusian area, 55,000 hectares. Of agricultural land, 2%. Is it a lot or is it little? What we have to do is prevent projects from piling up in certain areas.

P. And do you have the weapons to avoid that concentration?

R. The procedure is transparent. It is not the same that one project is executed to that three are executed due to the visual impact. The evacuation lines will be tried to bury.

P. Many Scientists Charge Against the Green Revolution [puesta en marcha por la Junta hace dos años] considering that it does not have concrete measures of weight.

R. I am very respectful of all opinions. Measures are being taken: we promote the energy transition and the reduction of emissions, the Climate Action Plan sets a 39% reduction in greenhouse effect emissions; We elaborated the Circular Economy Law that will reduce waste and promote recycling; We promote self-consumption, which has multiplied by 3.5 times. The Moves plan, which encourages the electric recharging of vehicles, the self-consumption window will begin in December, aid for actions in municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants will be published in November … Much more can always be done, but the resources are those who are.

P. Do you think the Andalusian Administration is doing enough to fight climate change?

R. More measures can always be taken. In the coming years I will promote new policies that help avoid the consequences of climate change. The UN speaks of 250,000 deaths annually from 2030. Existential problems must be left out of the political question. It is not about ideology: if it does not rain, it does not rain for anyone, it is a problem that we must all face. We are going to see the conclusions of the Glasgow summit.

P. You were a manager of the construction company Sando. Why did the president appoint you instead of choosing an expert technical profile in environment and climate change, or a top-level official as the Board itself advanced?

R. I don’t know, you will have to ask the president.

P. Have you ever wondered?

R. It has not occurred to me. We have known each other for a long time, I guess trust is also a grade.

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