A Meat and Dairy Article from All-Creatures.org

Food's climate footprint was once again MIA at global talks

From Ayuella Horn-Muller, Grist.org
June 2024

I wanted to see that food was genuinely getting its moment in the sun in the climate talks. And I think what we saw was that the Bonn talks were largely focused on finance, and less on particular sectors like animal agriculture.

Antonio Masiello / Stringer / Getty Images

Last week, the leaders of the world’s seven biggest economies convened in Italy to discuss several pressing global issues during the annual gathering known as the G7 summit. They agreed to lend Russia’s frozen assets to Ukraine, pushed for a ceasefire in Gaza, and pledged to launch a migration coalition.

Those discussions, which concluded Saturday, came right on the heels of the annual Bonn Climate Change Conference, which sets the foundation for the United Nations’ yearly climate gathering. In Bonn, Germany, an enduring dispute over who should provide trillions of dollars in climate aid to poor nations once again ended with little progress toward a solution, dominating the agenda so much so that dialogues on other issues often reverted back to financial debates.

Government heads at both conferences barely addressed what may be one of the most pressing questions the world faces: how to respond to the immense role animal agriculture plays in driving climate change. This continues a pattern of evasion around this issue on the international stage, which advocates and scientists find increasingly frustrating, given that shrinking the emissions footprint of global livestock production and consumption is a needed step toward mitigating climate change.

“We’re seeing, essentially, the cow in the room being ignored,” said Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re seeing these kinds of vague references to needing to shift diets, but still a refusal to call out animal agriculture as the leading cause, by far, of agricultural emissions, as well as other forms of environmental destruction in food and agriculture systems.”

Although estimates vary, peer-reviewed studies have found that the global food system is responsible for roughly one-third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Animals raised for consumption generate 32 percent of the world’s methane emissions, and agriculture is the largest source of anthropogenic methane pollution. Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas after carbon, and it’s 80 to 90 times more powerful than carbon in its first 20 years in the atmosphere. This is why many scientists believe that aggressively curbing humanity’s methane pollution would be the fastest way to slow planetary warming.


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Posted on All-Creatures.org: July 6, 2024
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