NAIROBI – A new study by World Animal Protection has revealed the true impact of factory farming on our planet, finding that ongoing expansion of factory farming will put achievement of the Paris Climate Agreement goals and a climate-safe future out of reach.
Every year, 80 billion animals are farmed globally, most on cruel factory farms. This latest report, Climate change and cruelty: revealing the true impact of factory farming, analysed the environmental impact of factory-farmed chicken and pork in four of the world’s biggest factory farming hot spots. It found that emissions from chicken meat in Brazil, China, Netherlands and US alone are equivalent to keeping 29 million cars on the road for a year.
Pork and chicken are often overlooked as contributors to climate change, as more emphasis is placed on the methane that cows produce from digestion and manure. This report exposes the hidden climate impact of factory farming, showing that we need to shift diets away from pork and chicken as well as beef to plant based diets if we are to combat climate change from our food system.
Four of the biggest factory farming hot spots were assessed – Europe (using data from the Netherlands), US, Brazil and China. Top-line findings show that:
– Land is cleared in biodiversity hot spots to grow crops to feed farmed animals, releasing carbon into the atmosphere and destroying wild animal habitats. Crops are traded globally, destined for factory farms
– When deforestation to grow feed crops – especially soya – for global trade is considered, this doubles the overall climate change impact of factory farmed meat in the Netherlands and increases the impact by more than one and a half times in China
– A 50% reduction in consumption of both chicken and pork by 2040, along with a 50% adoption of higher welfare products would halve the annual climate impacts of chicken and pork production across these four hot spots
– This would be equivalent to taking 45 million cars off the road for a year in the four hot spots combined.
The study is the first to measure how eating less factory-farmed chicken and pork could help safeguard our climate if combined with ending the cruellest practices on factory farms.
It comes as factory farming is expected to explode, as demand for meat is expected to increase as much as 30% in Africa, 18% in Asia Pacific, 12% in Latin America, and 9% in North America by 2030.
Dr Victor Yamo, Farming Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection said:
“When people think of the major causes of climate change, they often think about burning fossil fuels for industrial purposes, energy and transport. But there’s a hidden climate culprit, and one that could be on your plate – factory-farmed meat.
“Factory farming – either directly or indirectly through the feed chain, is to blame for the destruction of vital habitats, the displacement of wildlife, and is the largest cause of animal suffering on the planet. Sentient animals are deprived of any quality of life, and instead suffer their entire lives – many never see sunlight, roam freely in a field, or even have a life free of pain. This is cruelty at its very worst and it must end.
“We need governments to step-up to meet commitments to address deforestation and emissions by ending factory farming. They need to recognise the damage it does to animals, people and planet. We are running out of time to save our planet, and they are out of excuses not to address it.”
World Animal Protection is also calling for:
- Governments to stop approving new factory farms now by imposing a moratorium for a 10-year period. Governments are the key player in subsidizing factory farming. They have the power to shift policy and funding decisions away from factory farming in support of humane and sustainable food systems
- Industry to transition to a humane and sustainable food system by implementing FARMS farm animal welfare standards as a minimum, halving production of animal protein by 2040, and phasing out sourcing of monocrops like soya as feed for farmed animals
- Consumers to choose to eat less meat. By consuming fewer animal products and choosing higher welfare products (eat less and better), we can help to safeguard our climate and planet, and protect animal welfare.