Livestock Must Be a Clear Part of Climate Change Discussions

(3BL Media/Just Means) - The connection between livestock and climate change is well known. Even though a lot of people perhaps worry about the carbon footprint clocked up in air travel, what goes on their plate is much more significant since livestock accounts for 18 percent of all reductions (in contrast with 2% from aviation).

The famous Livestock's Long Shadow report from 2006 made headlines and started the debate. The financial world of late is giving clear signs that livestock and animal welfare is an important CSR issue. However, leading environmental agencies such as Greenpeace leave out meat from their climate change mitigation efforts and campaigns. Some of them may endorse Meatless Mondays, but rarely take a firm stance on the issue.

Recently, the Lancet released a report on health and climate change, calling on new public policies in response to the issue. But Dora Marinova and Talia Raphaely, both sustainability academic experts at Curtin University in Australia, argue that, like its environmental counterparts, the Lancet failed to address the meat issue.

“The commission’s recommendations are all based on solid evidence about the link between greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and human health. Focusing only on energy policy, however, will not be enough to head off climate change successfully. Calls for action that do not include reduction in the world’s livestock production and meat consumption will not be able to protect public health from the effects of climate change,” they said.

With China and India increasing their consumption of meat, and Brazil happy to hack through the Amazon to supply those markets (and now the U.S.A. as well), we’re on a dangerous path to exacerbate climate change. On top of that, livestock causes soil degradation, pollutes waterways and displaces wildlife.

Of course, people enjoy eating meat because they were taught to enjoy it and believe it is necessary for human health (it is not, officially) and this is the main reason it is popular. However, if we want to really reduce emissions, it seems absurd to leave out the the big cow in the room out of the conversation and, most importantly, policies.

Image credit: FAIRR